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On Red Bull Commercials

Luckily, the above Red Bull commercial has been pulled. There was all kinds of speculation about whether the man was going to rape the bird or urinate on her, but either way the message is bizarre.

What the geniuses at Red Bull have replaced this commercial with is equally odd. The first half is the same: Man walks, bird poops on him, he wipes it off and then drinks a Red Bull.
But then, he takes a slingshot from his pocket, shoots a piece of cork (I think) into the bird’s rectum, the bird falls onto the ground, and the man kicks her. And the tagline is: Red Bull–it stimulates the mind and body (or something like that).

What on earth is that?

Though my husband has repeatedly reminded me that I’m not Red Bull’s target market and I don’t drink the stuff, I don’t think that means I’m not allowed to at least publicly question them. Does Red Bull pump up your sense of vengeance? Does it make you more likely to harm animals? If young people are the target market, what are they hoping those young people will associate with their product?

I’m contacting them simply to ask what they’re trying to accomplish. I want to know what message they think they’re sending.

We all know the nature of most commercials is spin and even blatant prevarication (those happy California cows are a great example). But what purpose do these commercials serve other than making me even less likely to ever buy a Red Bull?

7 Comments Post a comment
  1. I say the first one and took at as bird pees on man, man pees on bird. I didn't finded it offensive at and am boggled that the idea of rape would even come up. If anything I think the second idea is far worse and contains actual violence.

    January 30, 2008
  2. Emily,

    I saw the rape comment before I watched the commercial, and I got it. BUT, it could've been the power of suggestion.

    The second one, where you actually see what happens, is very distasteful to me.

    January 30, 2008
  3. I concur with Emily. Clearly this was intended to be a reciprocal action on his part. Tasteless (and annoying to see the guy irresponsibly tossing his aluminum can aside instead of properly disposing of it), but not nearly as bad as the second one, which I wrote to the company about (thanks for providing the link).

    I received a response today:

    Dear Eric,

    We are truly sorry to hear you were offended by our ad on television. It is unfortunate that we have lost you as a customer, but we respect your decision.

    In addition we do appreciate your feedback, which has been forwarded to the appropriate parties.

    With thanks and regards,

    Andrea
    Red Bull North America
    http://www.redbullusa.com

    Making Spinal Cord Injury Curable
    Donate on http://www.wingsforlife.com

    Your comment:

    Red Bull promotes cruelty to animals?

    Your newcommercial so cavalierly suggests that it's acceptable–even clever–to harm animals (in this case, a bird). As a frequent Red Bull customer (who has liked some of your other commercials in the past), I am appalled and will purchase alternative energy drinks until such time as you have pulled this offensive commercial.

    January 31, 2008
  4. Deja vu:

    Dear Mary,

    We are truly sorry to hear you were offended by our ad on television. It is unfortunate that we have lost you as a customer, but we respect your decision.

    In addition we do appreciate your feedback, which has been forwarded to the appropriate parties.

    With thanks and regards,
    blah, blah, blah

    Your comment:

    I saw your recent commercial then researched it on YouTube to see it again as I didn't believe my eyes.

    I thought surely I didn't really see a grown man shoot a bird in the rectum with a cork, then kick the bird.

    But alas, Red Bull paid for that commercial and for some reason found it entertaining. I'm not sure who at Red Bull finds the intentional harming of animals entertaining, all I know is that the effect it has on me is: Don't ever buy Red Bull and spread the message to Just Say No to your product.

    —–

    I'm not actually a customer, and didn't say I was, so they weren't really losing me as a present customer–just a future one and a possible spokesperson. 'Not sure they read the complaints carefully.

    February 4, 2008
  5. not concerned #

    I find it ridiculous that rape would come into play on the first commercial this new commercial is worse. The first one is what goes around comes around….KARMA. If you don't know the ad states… "Redbull it gives you wings," the man gets his wings and is getting the bird back. For crying out loud it is a commercial chill out!!!!!!!

    February 11, 2008
  6. I'll be honest here…by comparison to a LOT of other things that see the light of day on TV (Jersey Shore?), this commercial is rather harmless, and *gasp!* dare I even say…Funny (oh no! I have a sense of humour and can differentiate reality from a man flying and peeing on a bird!! I must be a terrible person!!) I won't even mention some of the spurious claims that this commercial depicted rape either; because those are just too ridiculous to warrant even my saying THIS much about them.

    Also, there's something else I'd like to point out:

    "Luckily, the above Red Bull commercial has been pulled. There was all kinds of speculation about whether the man was going to rape the bird or urinate on her, but either way the message is bizarre."

    If your end goal was to squash the propagation of this ad, then you madam, have failed. Miserably. This is the INTERNET. A week before that ad went live in the US, it was being shown in countless other countries across the world, where people found it, and uploaded it to YouTube, Break.com, and countless other video sharing sites across the Web. We live in an age where you simply cannot "stop the signal" with a few angry letters to some megaconglomocorp.

    All this makes me wonder though…are you this offended by say, a Looney Tunes cartoon? Where "animal abuse" runs rampant. Does the site of Elmer Fudd in his ridiculously huge hat sneaking around looking for "wabbits" make your blood boil? Or maybe that argument is slightly off-base…after all, we ARE talking about animal abuse in cartoon commercials aren't we?? Having said THAT, I'm sure you must be FUMING with righteous indignation at the General Mills people for constantly depicting small children luring an innocent bird and rabbit with the promise of sugary cereals.

    I think what I'm really trying to get at here, is that while I too am a proponent of Animal Rights…there is such a thing as too much, and such a thing as going too far and getting too involved. Or, to put things much more bluntly…

    LIGHTEN UP.

    Thank you. 🙂

    (PS: I notice that comments are moderated here…so likely my comment won't even see the light of day. As long as you've seen it and the point gets across though, I don't much care.)

    November 12, 2010
  7. A.M. #

    I’m all about animal rights but to be honest I found this commercial disturbing on many levels!

    I watch a lot of tv and have seen many many commercials, some that have been pulled as well but this one made my heart stop for a second.

    Actually I’m glad to hear it was pulled because I was going to write to them about it, it was downright traumatizing for me and I think a lot of people could be affected by this commercial including adults and children who perhaps might have undergone different levels and forms of sexual abuse.

    June 19, 2013

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