Fact Check

Heineken Banners in Dogfighting Photo

Rumor: Photograph shows a dogfighting event sponsored by Heineken beer.

Published Sept. 3, 2012


Claim:   Photograph shows a dogfighting event sponsored by Heineken.


Example:   [Collected via e-mail, September 2012]

I found the picture below on FaceBook. I know that photoshop can be very good, but this looks real. Is there any way to check to see if Heineken really did sponsor this dog fighting event?


Origins:   In April 2012 (and again in August 2012 and December 2012) a photograph was widely circulated on the Internet showing a dogfighting match taking place in a forum festooned with banners advertising Heineken brand beer. Many viewers assumed the photograph was evidence that Heineken had officially sponsored the barbaric dogfighting event, leading to calls for

boycotts against the Amsterdam-based company.

However, further investigation revealed that the photo had been taken back in 2010 at a nightclub in Mongolia, and Heineken had neither been aware of the dogfighting activity nor had it sponsored it. The club's owner confirmed the Heineken banners had been put up for a promotional event held at the club the night before and had not been removed by the time the dogfight took place the following day.

In response to the controversy, Heineken announced that it had terminated its relationship with the club in question, removing all of its promotional materials and beverages from its premises, thereby "ensuring our brands will not be available in the club again":

Images continue to circulate in social media channels showing a dog fight, with Heineken banners clearly visible in the background. This is very distressing and totally unacceptable. As a company and a brand owner, we do not and would never knowingly support any event, outlet or individual involved in this type of activity. It is against our company and brand rules and — more important — against our company values.

Since this matter was brought to our attention via Facebook we have conducted an investigation and now know that:

  • The venue is a nightclub in Mongolia

  • The venue hosted a dog fight of which we had no knowledge and were not involved in any way

  • The venue owner has formally 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.

Based on this we have taken the following immediate actions:

  • Removed all remaining promotional materials from the venue

  • Withdrawn all current product stock from the club

  • Ceased our relationship, ensuring our brands will not be available in the club again

  • Instructed our distributor to check every location where our brands can be enjoyed to ensure such illegal activities are not taking place. If there is any suggestion that they are, we will take the same action and remove our products

  • Continue to ensure our strict advertising and promotion guidelines are enforced both to the letter and the spirit of their intent

We want to thank our consumers on-line for bringing this issue to our attention. We are shocked and disappointed by these images. We fully understand the level of negative feeling amongst consumers based on what they have seen. We appreciate that the vast majority have asked for our point of view before making a judgment. 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.


Heineken was the subject of a somewhat similar (but smaller) controversy in 2011 over objections to a television commercial that showed a Heineken-drinking man attending a snake fight dressed in a snakeskin jacket:

Last updated:   27 June 2015

David Mikkelson founded the site now known as snopes.com back in 1994.