For about 20 years, Red Bull’s marketing slogan has been “Red Bull gives you wings.” Red Bull just agreed to pay over $13 million in a settlement after a US class action lawsuit accused Red Bull of making false and misleading advertising claims.
Red Bull claims that it gives consumers improved concentration and reactions speeds. The class action lawsuit states that this claims are false and lack scientific support. These plaintiffs did not say the were expecting to grow actual wings, but the were expecting physical and/or mental “boost” that Red Bull promises and they did not receive it.
This settlement has been proposed to the US District Court of the Southern District of New York, where the case was tried. If this settlement is accepted by the court, Red Bull will be forced to pay $6.5 million into a settlement fund within a week.
The settlement states that Red Bull will be required to reimburse its customers who were disappointed with the drink with a $10 check or $15 Red Bull product voucher. This might end up being an enormous financial cost to Red Bull as this class action lawsuit covers tens of millions of customers who have purchased at least one Red Bull product within the past 10 years.
The lawsuit states:
Such deceptive conduct and practices mean that [Red Bull’s] advertising and marketing is not just ‘puffery,’ but is instead deceptive and fraudulent and is therefore actionable.
Red Bull’s statement about the settlement:
Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation. However, Red Bull maintains that its marketing and labeling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability.
Red Bull has admitted to no wrong doing while voluntarily removing their marketing slogan stating that “Red Bull give you wings.”
Red Bull sent the following email to BevNet explaining the situation:
“Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation. However, Red Bull maintains that its marketing and labeling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability.”
The suit argues that Red Bull misleads consumers about the superiority of its products with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” and its claims of increased performance, concentration and reaction speed, to name a few.
“Such deceptive conduct and practices mean that [Red Bull’s] advertising and marketing is not just ‘puffery,’ but is instead deceptive and fraudulent and is therefore actionable,” the suit says.
The class action cites articles by The New York Times, Nutrition Reviews and the European Food Safety Authority Journal, which indicate that energy drinks provide their boost through caffeine alone, not guarana or any other ingredient.
The suit says that a 7 oz. cup of drip coffee contains approximately 115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the blend, and a 12 oz. serving of Starbucks coffee costs $1.85 and “would contain far more caffeine than a regular serving of Red Bull.” An 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.
“Even though there is a lack of genuine scientific support for a claim that Red Bull branded energy drinks provide any more benefit to a consumer than a cup of coffee, the Red Bull defendants persistently and pervasively market their product as a superior source of ‘energy’ worthy of a premium price over a cup of coffee or other sources of caffeine,” the suit says.