Red Bull ad deliberately offensive — ASA

Red Bull breached the code of advertising practice by flighting a television advertisement that deliberately portrayed Jesus Christ in a disrepectful and  offensive way, said the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.

In its ruling against the energy drink company, ASA rejected its argument that the ad was just a cartoon and not meant to offend or be taken seriously. It says that Red Bull should have forseen that the ad would offend Christians.

Complaints against Red Bull were lodged with ASA by members of the public who said the ad, which made a koke out of  Jesus’ miracle of walking on the water, was blasphemous.

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ASA also said that the fact that Red Bull withdrew the ad after only one day did not absolve it from further consequences. Accordingly it ordered Red Bull to flight a summarised version of the ASA ruling as a 45 second TV commercial at its own cost. This sanction was suspended for a period of six months, on condition that Red Bull does not breach the advertising code again during this period.

In its ruling, ASA said: ” While the Directorate is mindful of the fact that the commercial is intended to be light-hearted, comical and harmless, this does not remove the direct reference, and ultimately trivialisation of the miracle of Jesus walking on water.

“In doing so, the commercial not only makes fun of a basic event of the Christian religion, but uses Jesus Christ who is the central figure of this religion, in a comical situation and in a way that trivialised all events and teachings surrounding Jesus and the miracles he performed. This is something that would likely offend Christians in the same manner as it offended the complainants, and more importantly something that the respondent should reasonably have foreseen.

“Based on the above the commercial is in contravention of Clause 1 of Section II of the Code.”

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