Nigerian law enforcement agencies have begun a massive hunt for the people behind attempts to smear the image of Amstel Malta, a premium low sugar malt drink made by Nigerian Breweries Plc.
This follows a recent discovery of several attempts by unknown faces to damage the brand’s image by creating a video showing the presence of foreign object in the famous malt drink.
In August 2016, Amstel Malta rolled out a new credential campaign #WhyAddMore. This was followed in November by an upgrading of the packaging and labelling of the brand to reflect new requirements put in place by the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON) and the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) guidelines. Soon after, a photo went viral on the internet that a fake version of Amstel Malta was in circulation.
This was because the new Amstel Malta wore the new National Industrial Standard (NIS) logo of the Standard Organisation of Nigeria while the old packaging had the former NIS logo.
As days passed, Nigeria consumers were soon greeted with another offensive video of an Amstel Malta can drink allegedly containing a foreign object. A faceless person recorded an alleged contaminated drink and circulated it on social media.
Nigerian Breweries, the makers of Amstel Malta soon notified law enforcement agencies for further investigation.
Soon, the Standard Organisation of Nigeria (SON), the government body vested with the responsibility of standardizing and regulating the quality of all products in Nigeria, exposed the falseness claims put forward by a faceless individual of an alleged fake Amstel Malta in circulation.
The agency’s Deputy Director, Mr. Fred Akingbesote, who represented the Director General of SON, said that Nigerian Breweries have met all of the agency’s safety and quality requirements and have complied with all requirements of the new National Industrial Standard (NIS) logo.
Akingbesote added that the information was available on the agency’s website at www.son.gov.ng for verification.
Forensic and marketing experts have also weighed in on the controversy, linking the same person(s) who created a video of a purported ‘fake’ or ‘original’ Amstel Malta in circulation with the video of an Amstel Malta can which contains a foreign object.
They argue that the video had a lot of unanswered questions and false claims. For instance, the can was not transparent for a consumer to notice the presence of a foreign object before pouring the content into a container; also, the content of the can was emptied into a bowl instead of a cup ready for drinking. Another observation was that the persons in the video did not show their faces; also, the person pouring the drink did not disclose how they got to know there was a foreign object in the can; and finally, there was no mention of where the drink was purchased or any attempt to contact the retailer.
Analysts came to the conclusion that it might have been the work of a competing brand, which according to them, is a despicable and dirty way to ignite a brand war by exploiting the gullibility of many unsuspecting social media users.