Red Bull “Jesus walks on water” TV ad pulled after a day

A Red Bull TV advert in which a “bored” cartoon Jesus “walks on water” has been removed after one day after it sparked a flurry of complaints from people who found it blasphemous.

In an official response email received by Gateway News this evening, Red Bull says the ad, which was broadcast on South African television last night “was part of our regular Red Bull series, is now off air and has now been followed by another”.

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The email says Red Bull has “looked at well-known themes with a twinkle in the eye” for over 20 years. It says it was never its intention to hurt anyone’s feelings and that it regrets that people have been offended by the ad.

The advert depicts a cartoon “Jesus” in a boat with two disciples. He proclaims he is bored and steps out of the boat and walks on the water.

A disciple asks whether he is able to do so because he has drunk Red Bull, which “gives you wings”, or because it is a miracle.

“It’s no miracle, you just have to know where the stepping stones are,” Jesus replies.

Then Jesus  nearly slips on a stone and says, “Jesus!”.

“Meant to offend”
In a statement released earlier today, Family Policy Institute director Errol Naidoo says: “The advert is meant to offend as it depicts the Jesus character in the cartoon using the name of Jesus as a curse word.

“Red Bull wouldn’t dream of mocking religious figures of other religions. Christianity and Jesus in particular are singled out for mockery by secular humanists and other anti-Christian bigots.

“FPI is launching a nationwide boycott of Red Bull products in response to this blasphemous attack on the Lord Jesus Christ.”

The SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) also condemned the commercial.

“We question the timing of the release of the advert — which seems to be part of an international campaign,” says spokesman Cardinal Wilfred Napier in a statement.

“While the Red Bull adverts are characterised by their cleverness, we believe that Red Bull South Africa have overstepped a mark.”

Napier says the SACBC welcomes the halting of the campaign, but asks Red Bull SA to cancel it completely.

Sensitivity training suggested
“We also suggest that the marketing team and their advertising and public relations companies make a serious effort to attend sensitivity training. People are more than consumers and faith-based symbols are more than marketing opportunities.”

Napier says the SACBC is grateful that many South Africans, from different faiths and religions, have registered their displeasure with the campaign at Red Bull SA, and with the Advertising Standards Authority of SA.

“In a multi-faith country like South Africa, where over 70 percent of people profess to be people of faith, the use of faith-based symbols in a satirical, if tongue-in-check manner, is guaranteed to cause a reaction.”

Napier says Catholics should “fast” from displaying and consuming Red Bull until Easter, to send a message to the company.

“In this way, Red Bull SA will understand that the idea that there is ‘no such thing as bad publicity’ is dangerous territory when it comes to mocking religious symbols,” he says.

Napier suggests that people donate the money they would have spent on Red Bull to charities.

The Red Bull Jesus walks on water ad has also sparked outrage in Brazil, reports Christian Post and may be banned by the National Advertising Council (CONAR).

The controversial ad also provoked discussion on social media today. On a South African media-savvy blog The Sharmanator, it seems that Christians who commented were divided between those who found the Red Bull ad blasphemous and those who were not offended and felt that Christians should lighten up. There was however general consensus that the ad lacked in humour and creativity.




  1. leonard spencer

    Oh Erroll! Really now! Evangelical bigots have been targeting Islam, Judaism and other Movements within Christianity for years. Please use your platform for something worthwhile…

    • I cant believe what you wrote. It is utterly untrue. As a pastor of 45 years standing I have never heard such blasphemy and mocking of other religions at any time.
      Muslims are murdering Christians across the earth as I write. But if they blasphemed Allah would you accept it? I doubt it?

  2. Seriously, Red Bull…what were u guys thinking…respect ALL your consumers!

  3. Hi Andre, thank you for your article. I question the reason for putting a link to the advert. I mean, what’s the point of objecting to the advert and then showing the ad? To take to to the extreme, it’s like me objecting to porn and then providing a link to a porn web site. Can I ask you to please remove the ad from your post?

    • I agree and have removed it.

      • This advert of Jesus is extremely offessive to all our christians.Many of us are fasting and praying in this time. You are making a REAL mockery of the very person that died for our sins.If you think this is funny wait till Jesus come
        and fetch His flock, then we will see who the joke is on. Very dissapointed. You got the attention! now try something else, there are millions of other ways of getting your advert noticed by viewers. You can try another religion and see the uproar! Hoping this will make you think, you have gone too far.

  4. This is totally unacceptable!
    Mocking Jesus is not new but we should stand up against it none the less!!

    I for one will Not buy a Red Bull again until there is a Full Public Apology from Red Bull!!

  5. Hendrik Coetzee

    I found the advertisement in poor taste and felt that Red Bull were making a mockery of Christianity. Unacceptable!

  6. I agree – the ad has to go and I too will not be buying Red Bull ever again. I urge the public not to purchase red bull every again whether they apologise or not.

  7. I have told many people that did not even see the ad about the mockery, they immediatly said they wont buy red bull again!

  8. What is it with these people, no more red bull for me and I will tell as many people as I can until a full apology is given

  9. Pradika Sookunlall

    I agree that “People are more than consumers and faith-based symbols are more than marketing opportunities.” Advertiser should be sensitive to all religions.

  10. Sorry Red Bull – Jesus gives me wings not you! You are mocking Religion and show no respect for peoples believes. How this ad got authorised to be aired is just beyond me, I suppose money is everything hey! Sorry No Red Bull for me again EVER!!!! Have shared this with my network and I am pleased to see people stand up against Blasphemy. :( Not impressed

  11. I have always loved your ads, now disgust doesnt begin to discribe the disappointment!!

    • I think disgust an ungracious and unspiritual word to use. It smacks strongly of self-rightousness. In fact, Errol Naidoo’s reactions and these here seem to come more from a point of pride, rather than genuine concern for the cause of Christ. It’s my firm belief that these self-righteous reactions are more harmful to Christianity than the ad itself.

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  14. Seriously? It’s a lame advert. You religious types seriously need to lighten up. Go find something worthwhile to get upset about – like the rampant poverty, corruption and crime in this country! Those are worth getting offended over, not some satirical cartoon!

    • Alan, you are right about the “something worthwhile to get upset about”. I can assure you that many of us Christians are very concerned about crime and corruption, which are one of the significant causes of poverty. And, more importantly, we are doing something about it. Come visit us at TCN’s Facebook page where we can continue the debate.

  15. I found the Cardinal’s comment well balanced and thought through in contrast with the knee jerk reaction of many of us. Methinks that our God does not need us to take up arms on his behalf, even metaphorically speaking. However Galations 6:7 clearly explains the dangers of mocking God. But more so the verses before and after emphasise the need to harvest souls. So my prayer is for those who were involved in instigating and producing the advert. Incidently, I have never had a Red Bull, and will never likely have one, so Red Bull will not suffer on my account.

  16. I agree with all the Christian sentiment but have a slightly different perspective on how Jesus might react to it. Jesus wants to win people over and allow them to “repent” for themselves and make the necessary restitution (think of Zacchaeus – Luke 19). How we respond is going to greatly impact how unbelievers are going to respond. Read what I had to say about it : (What would Jesus say to the Red Bull Team). God bless. Darryl.

  17. I refer to the Red Bull energy drink’s “Jesus walks on water” campaign. The advert or commercial should be cancelled completely and condemned in the strongest possible terms as it creates a disrespectful animated illustrate that blasphemes Jesus or Isa (PBUH) as he is known to Muslims.

    I truly agree with SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference (SACBC) spokesman Cardinal Wilfred Napier that: “ in a multi-faith country like South Africa, where over 70 percent of people profess to be people of faith, the use of faith-based symbols in a satirical, if tongue-in-check manner, is guaranteed to cause a reaction”

    The decision to halt the advert campaign by Red Bull (SA) is welcomed and it is also pleasing to note that Cardinal Wilfred Napier made it known, loud and clear, that there are communities and individuals with strong religious values living in this country and their sensitivities should be taken into account.

    In this regard I support Cardinal Wilfred Napier’s call to “fast” from displaying and consuming Red Bull until Easter.

    Adverts, comedies, cartoons and satire do not have to involve such distasteful, dishonest and inhuman contempt.

    Freedom from insults and provocation and freedom to practise religion is an essential right which should be guaranteed to every community.


  18. There is a difference between good humor and sick humor but Christians are not the stupid idiots Red Bull may think Mock everything else but do not mock my Jesus He paid with His Life so I CAN BE FREE. On the other hand it makes sense that people would poke fun at Jesus because often times we are too weak to truly stand up for what we believe so please people at all times stand strong for Jesus and don’t be weak and wimpy but thanks also for taking a clear stand in this instance

  19. I am glad to see that everybody is pledging to boycott Red-Bull.

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  21. like seriously…sum things you just cannot joke abt!yaaaaaaaawn