Red Bull agreed Thursday to pay over $13 million to settle a proposed class action lawsuit in New York federal court accusing the Austria-based beverage company and its U.S. subsidiaries of falsely advertising its energy drinks with the slogan “Red Bull Gives You Wings”.
The settlement could include millions of individuals who purchased at least one Red Bull can over the past 10 years, offering class members the option of a $10 cash reimbursement or two free Red Bull products with an approximate retail value of $15 (Red Bull would cover shipping costs).
Red Bull sent BevNET an email with the following statement:
“Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation. However, Red Bull maintains that its marketing and labeling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability.”
The suit argues that Red Bull misleads consumers about the superiority of its products with its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” and its claims of increased performance, concentration and reaction speed, to name a few.
“Such deceptive conduct and practices mean that [Red Bull’s] advertising and marketing is not just ‘puffery,’ but is instead deceptive and fraudulent and is therefore actionable,” the suit says.
The class action cites articles by The New York Times, Nutrition Reviews and the European Food Safety Authority Journal, which indicate that energy drinks provide their boost through caffeine alone, not guarana or any other ingredient.
The suit says that a 7 oz. cup of drip coffee contains approximately 115 to 175 milligrams of caffeine, depending on the blend, and a 12 oz. serving of Starbucks coffee costs $1.85 and “would contain far more caffeine than a regular serving of Red Bull.” An 8.4 oz. can of Red Bull contains 80 milligrams of caffeine.
“Even though there is a lack of genuine scientific support for a claim that Red Bull branded energy drinks provide any more benefit to a consumer than a cup of coffee, the Red Bull defendants persistently and pervasively market their product as a superior source of ‘energy’ worthy of a premium price over a cup of coffee or other sources of caffeine,” the suit says.
[image credit: Shutterstock]