NATO-Themed Beer Launched by Finnish Brewery Triggers Concerns About Promoting Alcoholism
09:13 GMT 17.05.2022 (Updated: 12:06 GMT 17.05.2022)
Although recent polls indicate that the majority of Finns support the government's move to join the North Atlantic Alliance, many argued that the name of the NATO-themed beer with its Finnish wordplay on the thirst for a drink may be at odds with the Nordic country's strict policies on the marketing of alcohol.
As Finland takes its first faltering steps towards joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, a local brewery has launched a new NATO-themed beer.
The Savonlinna-based Olaf Brewing's new brand is called Otan and is a pun on the French variation of NATO's name and the Finnish for “I will have”. The can's blue design features a cartoon knight figure in a metal armour, emblazoned with the NATO's trademark symbol.
“In the past we haven't taken much of a stand in political affairs. Now, however, the majority of Finns are behind the NATO decision, Olaf Brewing's chief executive Petteri Vänttinen told national broadcaster Yle, citing several polls that indicate that the balance has tipped strongly in favour of the alliance. “That's why we dared to take such a step, and it didn't really require a lot of daring: we just decided to do it.”
The company admitted that it had been thinking about launching a NATO-themed beer for a while, but the final decision was reached over the weekend as it became clear that Finland was officially applying for membership.
The company is already boasting a large interest from shopkeepers and restaurants.
“The phone has been ringing all morning and people have been asking 'When can you deliver?'” Vänttinen explained.
Riikka-Maria Lemminki, the head of Marketing Finland, said that to her knowledge it was the first NATO-branded marketing campaign in the country. According to her, since the majority of the population are strongly pro-NATO, marketers will “stick to it”. She also noted that smaller companies have a competitive edge over majors given that they don't need to think over their decisions from every possible angle.
Still, she ventured that the beer's name with its wordplay on the thirst for a drink may be at odds with Finland's strict policies on the marketing of alcohol.
“It's a bit of a grey area there. A lawyer or communications representative should probably take a look at where the line is – whether you want to say NATO is French or whether you are encouraging people to have a beer,” Lemminki suggested.
Similar thoughts have been expressed on the social media. Although the company presents its novelty as celebrating “Independent Finland is about to make an independent decision”, many questioned whether Valvira, the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, will stop the sales of the brand on the grounds that it “encourages alcoholism”.