Red Bull ‘4pm finish’ ad banned

An ad for Red Bull suggesting that the energy drink could help workers to achieve a 4pm finish has been banned for implying it can increase focus and concentration.

The poster, seen on the London Underground on September 11, stated: “The secret to finishing early … 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”

A reader complained that the ad implied that the caffeinated energy drink had a beneficial effect on health, in particular focus and concentration.

Red Bull ad. (ASA/PA)
Red Bull ad. (ASA/PA)

Red Bull said the ad promoted the 4pm Finish “consumer initiative”, which encouraged workers to leave one hour early on Friday September 14.

It said the ad did not suggest the drink delivered a health benefit, made people better at doing their job through increased concentration or focus, or had any health benefit at all.

Upholding the complaint, the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said the ad’s tone was light-hearted but presented a scenario of being overwhelmed or busy at work that would be familiar and relatable to consumers.

The ASA said: “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 4pm 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.”

It said 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, claims that were not authorised on the EU Register.

It ruled that the ad must not appear again in its current form, adding: “We told Red Bull not to imply that Red Bull could increase focus and concentration when those claims were not authorised on the EU Register.”