Heineken has launched an investigation after photo of a dogfight show was posted online with banners of the company flying in the arena. Beer drinkers have threatened to boycott Heineken because of the photo believed to have been taken in Mongolia.
The year-old photo was circulated online by animal rights groups and sparked immediate angry reactions from Heineken drinkers.
Daily Mail reports that Heineken said it was as "shocked and disappointed" as everyone else at the image of their brand name linked to such brutal blood sport . The photo causing the controversy showed cameramen filming a dogfight in a ring with the logo of Heineken hanging over the arena.
Heineken, in an official statement on their Facebook page, said: "We are aware of images of dog fighting circulating online including our branding. We do not support such cruelty and are urgently investigating." According to MSN Now, Heineken said the company "...was not and would never knowingly be associated with illegal activities, including those involving cruelty to animals."
Activists have, however, accused the company of "backtracking" only after being exposed. They called on the company to speak out in public against dogfighting.
Daily Mail reports Facebook users have been expressing their disgust: "I am so not having anything to do with your product or events you sponsor - anywhere - until you sort this out. Disgraceful!"
Another Facebook user, said: "Shame on you Heineken--you are what is wrong with this world! How could you sponsor such a heinous crime!"
Following the uproar, Heineken wasted no time tracking down the club in Mongolia. A spokesman for Heineken claimed that the venue had hosted an official Heineken event before the dogfight event and that the dogfight had nothing to do with the company.
Dogfight ring with Heineken banners, Mongolia
According to the spokesman, Heineken had no knowledge of the dog fighting event and they have now removed all their promotional materials from the venue. The spokesman said: "The venue owner has verbally confirmed that Heineken banners are visible in the pictures because the previous evening the club had been decorated for a promotional event and he had failed to remove the banners once it was over. This event was in no way related to the dog fight. We fully understand the level of negative feeling amongst consumers based on what they have seen. We encourage our consumers to continue to use social media channels to alert us to any situation where they feel our brands are being misrepresented, so that we can take the appropriate actions."
This is not the first time Heineken is embroiled in controversy over association of its brand with animal blood sport. Daily Mail reports the company ran into trouble last year when it was alleged that one of its products was advertised at bullrings in Spain.