The ad appeared on the online TV service Demand Five and notched up 600, 000 views before Red Bull withdrew it on the strength of one complaint.
Complaining to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA), the viewer called the ad “irresponsible and offensive” because of its portrayal of a young child in a sexual situation.
The ad begins with a young boy feeding pigs Red Bull before returning home to ask his mum whether he can go to a gentleman’s club. His mum refuses saying “when pigs fly young man,” whereupon pigs fly past the kitchen window and the young boy finds himself watching a woman in fishnet stocking dancing on a podium and draping a feather boa over him.
Despite pulling the ad, Red Bull defending its content to the ASA saying that it had a clear humorous tone and was not an endorsement of gentleman’s clubs as suitable venues for young boys. The energy drink specialist added that it did not intend to portray the boy in a sexualised manner but rather as “a caricature of a rebellious and cheeky young man.”
The ASA came down on the side of Red Bull in its assessment, ruling that the ad was unlikely to be seen as irresponsible or to cause serious or widespread offense.
The advertising watchdog said some may consider the creative idea behind the ad as “dubious”, but that it was more of a portrayal of a child’s instinctive curiosity and mischievous nature rather than a child in a sexual situation.
It added: “We also considered that, although the notion of a child asking to go to a "Gentleman's Club", and then apparently attending one, was incongruous and slightly unsettling, the cartoon depiction and 'flying pigs' scenario rendered the ad unrealistic, and too whimsical to cause mental or moral harm to children.”