A bill of Hungarian’s ruling party to ban communist and Nazi symbols may also forbid Heineken to use its red star logo in Hungary, which the Dutch brewer used for more than 80 years in many countries. According to ViktorOrbán's administration the red star in the Heineken-logo may be associated with the communist red star.
Heineken in a statement rejected the association saying that “the red Heineken star has no political meaning whatsoever,” and Heineken “use(s) the same brand symbols across the world, in every market.”
Many people like Lajos Kosa, the parliamentary leader, sees the matter as a “confluence of two issues.” Not long ago the Hungarian government called for a boycott of Heineken. The reason was a small Romanian brewer of Hungarian origin who lost a court case against Heineken in the use of the name of an ethnic Hungarian minority living in Romania. Hungary sees itself as a defender of the rights of Hungarian minorities living across the border and woos them with generously issued passports.
In the said case, András Lenárd, owner of Romanian craft brewery Csíki Sör Manufaktúra, was not longer allowed to use the brand name Csíki Sör due to its similarity to Heineken Romania’s brand Csíki Prémium.
The dispute over communist symbols looks therefore more like an excuse for Viktor Orbán's aversion against international companies. Orbán's government also accuses western companies to sell products of inferior quality in the former communist country.
Once in power the new legislation might not only affect Heineken but also other brands like San Pellegrino bottled water and Converse shoes, which also use a red star in their logo.
Heinekens logo, which is recognized by its oval shape, the typical Heineken green color and the five point star originates from at least 1883. “In the 1930s a different rectangular label with a large red star was launched in the Dutch market. This was when the red star first appeared on the label. The red star was also added to the export label which remained oval and green with the black bar. After the Second World War, in 1951, in many countries the red star -being associated with communism – changed from red to white with only a small red border. Over the years the red border of the star of all export labels gradually became more prominent, until 1991, when it became completely red again.” (Heineken Collection Foundation)
Heineken said that "we will closely monitor this local matter and hope and trust that this matter will be resolved soon.”