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Red Bull cautioned by ASA for suggesting the energy drink aids concentration


By Imogen Watson | Senior reporter

January 16, 2019 | 4 min read

Red Bull has been cautioned by the Advertising Standards Association (ASA) for an ad that the watchdog ruled makes unauthorised health claims. The ad in question was part of Redbull's '4PM Finish' campaign that encouraged workers to leave work one hour early on Friday 14 September.

Spotted on the London Underground network, the poster featured two women stood in front of a floating can of the Red Bull energy drink.

Red Bull reprimanded by ASA for tube ad

Red Bull reprimanded by ASA for tube ad

To the left of the cartoon, the copy read: "The secret to finishing early. Plans are afoot to finish at four, But first, you have meetings and deadlines galore. So remember the secret of every office superstar, And tame every task that’s thrown on your radar. Because to leap every hurdle a hectic day brings, You just need to know: Red Bull gives you wiiings."

The complainant challenged whether the copy on the ad implied that Red Bull has a beneficial effect on health - in particular, focus and concentration.

In defence, Red Bull claimed that the ad did not depict its energy drink being consumed, and the text did not suggest its drink delivered a health benefit.

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It argued that although the ad calls for people to be efficient and complete their work early, it does not suggest that the energy drink has an effect on concentration or focus. Further, it said the only reference in the text to Red Bull was the end line, "Red Bull gives you wiiings," which is its renowned slogan.

Red Bull has been pulled up by the ASA before after it received complaints that its slogan insinuated health benefits. However, the slogan was found not to be in breach of any regulation because it is a trademark.

The ASA concluded that although the ad's tone was light-hearted, it presented a relatable scenario that consumers would be familiar with.

It considered the penultimate line of the copy, ' leap every hurdle a hectic day brings' implied that Red Bull could improve consumer's mental focus, concentration and energy levels.

Although the trademark 'Red Bull gives you wiiings' does not need to be accompanied by an authorised health claim as generally required by the regulation, other implied health benefits do. Because the ASA believe the copy insinuates a health benefit, this should have been accompanied by a health claim.

The ad was therefore upheld by the ASA for implying that Red Bull could help increase mental focus, concentration and energy levels. Because of this, it said the ad must not appear again in its current form.

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