Two TV animations, aired in October, were challenged on the basis of whether they implied that drinking Red Bull had a beneficial effect on health – in particular brain function – which is a health claim that must be authorized on the EU register.
However, the ASA ruled that the tone of the advert, along with ambiguity of the effect of the drink, meant consumers were ‘unlikely to understand that the ad implied a relationship between food, or ingredient, and health’ and thus did not breach the advertising code.
Robot vs man
The first 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 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 the ‘Red Bull gives you wiiings’ tagline.
The complainant challenged whether the advert implied that drinking Red Bull had a beneficial effect on health – in particular brain function – which is a health claim that must be authorized on the EU Register.
Red Bull said it was clear from the beginning of the advert that the theme was far-fetched: with exaggerated robotic noises and the notion of ’90 trillion moves’. It also pointed to the brand’s consistent use of cartoon style over the last 20 years, featuring the incredible or impossible, along with humor.
The ASA also noted that the effect of drinking Red Bull was ambiguous, and said on balance the humorous, fantastical tone of the ad meant consumers were unlikely to make a link between the drink and health.
‘Red Bull gives you wiiings’ is not a health claim
A second ad featured an animation of two smartphones sitting on a bench in a park, commiserating over their absent owners who were now with friends instead of their phones.
One of the phones said: ‘We should have stopped this Red Bull; everyone knows it vitalises body and mind’, and the advert ended with the ‘Red Bull gives you wiiings’ tagline.
The complainant challenged whether the statement ‘vitalises body and mind’ implied a general health claim, which must be accompanied by a specific authorized health claim on the EU register.
The ASA acknowledged that ‘vitalising body and mind’ would generally be taken as a reference to overall good health or health-related well-being.
However, it noted that both ‘Red Bull gives you wiings’ and ‘it vitalises body and mind’ are trademarks that were registered before January 1, 2005: which means they are exempt from complying with Regulation 1924/2006 on nutrition and health claims made on foods until January 2022.
Therefore the ASA ruled that Red Bull did not breach the Code in either advert and no further action is required.