Heineken beer’s trademark red star on its may soon be banned in one central European country.
On Monday, Hungary's Prime Minister Viktor Orban has declared that his country has a “moral obligation” to ban the commercial use of symbols such as the swastika, arrow cross, hammer and sickle, and the red star, Reuter’s reports, due to their communist association.
The ban would go along with several of Orban's policies, targeting mostly foreign-owned business with special taxes and regulation. Orban's government faces a re-election in April 2018, and the ban, according to the prime minister, would help the country continue to disassociate from its left-leaning ties.
Heineken, which is Dutch-owned, has used a five-pointed star logo on its beer since the 1880s. It was first colored red in 1930, years before Communists took power in Hungary after World War II.
The brewer was immediately targeted, however, with Orban’s chief of staff Janos Lazar quoted as saying that the red star in Heineken’s logo was “obvious political content," since the star was also a major symbol of Soviet communism, appearing on the crest of communist-era Hungary.
But the beermaker says the stars five points merely represent various states of the brewing process, and has no plans to change its logo.
“Naturally, the red Heineken star has no political meaning whatsoever, and we use the same brand symbols across the world, in every market,” the company said in a statement released Wednesday.
“We will closely monitor this local matter and hope and trust that this matter will be resolved soon.”
But if the bill banning such symbols moves ahead, companies like Heineken found using these symbols could be fined up to $6.9 million dollars and even face jail time.
Heineken changed its star from red to white with a small red border after the second world war.
Communist symbols, unlike Nazi symbols, are not banned in the Czech Republic or in Romania.
The red star not only makes its appearance on beer bottles but also in the badges of soccer teams such as French club Red Star FC or the famous Red Star Belgrade club.