The advertising watchdog received two complaints about Red Bull putting health claims in its marketing.
Two issues were investigated and both were not upheld.
One advert featured an animation of a man playing chess with a robot.
The robot said: “You don’t have a chance against me. I can calculate 90 trillion moves in advance”. The man then opened a can of Red Bull and drank from it.
The robot said: “Not fair, not fair,” and knocked its chess pieces off the board. The advert ended with an image of a can of Red Bull and the strapline “Red Bull gives you wiiings”, which was stated in a voice over.
The second advert featured an animation of two smartphones sitting on a park bench. The first phone said: “Look at us, sitting alone without our users.”
The second phone said: “Can you imagine, mine went jogging. Out in nature.”
Vitalising body and mind
The first phone replied: “Yep, lost control of them. No more liking and sharing,” to which the second phone responded: “That’s nothing, they’ve got real friends again, not followers.”
The first phone said: “And they were helpless, depending on us all the time.” Second phone: “Infuriating. We should have stopped this Red Bull; everyone knows it vitalises body and mind.”
The first phone then said: “It’s getting colder.” Before a voiceover said: “Too late, ‘cos Red Bull gives you wings.”
An image of a can of Red Bull Sugarfree appeared on screen with the strapline “Red Bull gives you wiiings”.
One complaint challenged whether the first advert implied that drinking Red Bull had a beneficial impact on health, in particular, on brain function, which was a health claim that must be authorised on the EU Register of nutrition and health claims made on foods (the EU Register), according to the ASA.
Another complaint was made against the second advert, which challenged the claim “we should have stopped this Red Bull, everyone knows it vitalises body and mind”, which was a general health claim that must be accompanied by a specific authorised health claim on the EU Register.
The ASA stated that “Red Bull gives you wiiings” was not a health claim and the words were clearly fanciful and without a specific meaning that could be taken literally by consumers.
The words did not state, suggest or imply a relationship existed between any Red Bull product or one of their constituents and health.
Furthermore, the phrases “Red Bull gives you wiiings” and “it vitalises body and mind” were both trademarks registered before 1 January 2005, which exempted them from having to comply with the regulation on nutrition and health claims made on foods until January 2022. They also provided evidence of the trademarks.
In addition, Red Bull stated both adverts were light-hearted cartoons that used a fantastical way of story-telling that should not be, and largely was not, taken literally by consumers.
It stated Red Bull adverts had a consistent cartoon style for the past 20 years and featured the incredible or the impossible, coupled with humour, to tell an entertaining story.
The content was not intended to convey a serious message. In the first advert, it was obvious from the beginning that the tone was intended to be comic and the theme far-fetched.
The ASA rejected the complaints as it considered that “it vitalises body and mind” would likely be understood as a reference to a general benefit of the drink for overall good health or health-related well-being.