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No, You Can't Leave Work Early Just Because You Had A Red Bull, Says ASA

By Holly Brockwell on at

A set of tube ads for Red Bull have been pulled by the Advertising Standards Authority because they implied Red Bull could help you get your work done faster and go home.

After a complaint, the ASA investigated and banned the ad, finding that it implied the sugary beverage could help you focus and concentrate well enough on your work that you'd get it done faster, and could go home early.

Besides the fact that no boss has ever been that generous and would just pile more work on your desk while expecting you to do it at the same speed, Red Bull hasn't submitted scientifically-proven proof of better concentration to the EU's Register of Nutrition and Health Claims. Which means they can't put it in ads.

The poetic advert 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.

FOR A FLYING 4PM FINISH ON 14TH SEPTEMBER VISIT REDBULL.CO.UK/4PMFINISH

Red Bull, of course, argued with the ruling – their explanation was that they've created a National 4pm Finish Day, and were just innocently promoting it rather than trying to get people to neck mega-caffeinated canned drinks to get their work done.

But the ASA was having none of it:

"The ASA considered that while the ad’s tone was light-hearted, the scenario it presented of being overwhelmed or busy at work was one that would be familiar and relatable to consumers. While we understood that the ad was intended to be part of a marketing initiative aimed at encouraging consumers to improve their productivity and leave at 4 pm on a specific day, we considered that the penultimate line of the poem, “… to leap every hurdle a hectic day brings” implied that Red Bull could help improve consumers’ mental focus, concentration and energy levels (and therefore increase productivity).

[...]We considered the picture of the can, the artwork and the text made clear the ad was for Red Bull and that any implied health claims in the ad were in respect of that product.

For those reasons we therefore considered that consumers would understand that the ad implied a relationship between a food and health, specifically that Red Bull could help increase mental focus, concentration and energy levels. Because those were not claims authorised on the EU Register we concluded that the ad breached the Code."

Red Bull has been told not to run the ad again, and not to make any claims about focusing better on future ads. Tut.

Main image: Aurimas via Flickr CC