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Posted on: Oct 31, 2014
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"Red Bull Gives You Wings" - and a Headache for Red Bull

By Stephen Farris, SmithAmundsen LLC

The slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” is recognized by millions of consumers. Surely Red Bull fans don’t believe that they will literally sprout wings after drinking the energy beverage. But does the slogan falsely imply that drinking Red Bull will give consumers a physical lift or boost?

The plaintiffs in a proposed class action lawsuit thought so, and they wanted Red Bull to pay dearly for its misleading ways. The suit claimed that Red Bull primarily depends on caffeine for its energy boosting effect, but the beverage actually contains less caffeine than a cup of Starbucks coffee or other similarly caffeinated drinks. Plaintiffs said Red Bull’s advertised superior energy-boosting effects misled them to pay more for Red Bull than for a lower-priced Starbucks caffeine fix.

We’ll never know how high plaintiff’s class action suit would have flown because Red Bull has settled the lawsuit for more than $13 million and is changing its marketing claims. Consumers disappointed in their lack of wings can receive a check for $10, or more Red Bull in the form of a voucher for $15 worth of Red Bull products. Advertisers wishing to avoid Red Bull’s fate are wise to avoid not only literally false claims, but also misleading statements. Check out this article for more about the issue.

This post was written by Stephen Farris, SmithAmundsen LLC. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Intellectual Property Section page, please email Mary Kay Price at

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