The energy boosting properties of a popular energy drink is a load of Red Bull, the UK’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) has ruled. The authority upheld complaints against claims of improved concentration, reaction time and endurance that appeared in newspaper, magazine and poster advertisements.

The ASA has spent three and half years adjudicating the complaints, which were originally made in 1997. Independent research commissioned by the authority found the claims to be untrue.

Red Bull had presented the authority with a complete list of ingredients and results of 20 studies into the effects of caffeine, its main component. But the ASA said the Austrian-based manufacturer’s company could not provide satisfactory evidence to back up its claims for the period when the complaints were made. They ruled that much of the research suggested that it was necessary to drink four cans of the drink to enhance performance – not just the one implied in the advertisements. The ASA also noted that a single can of Red Bull contained only about as much of the stimulant caffeine as a cup of coffee. Experts are divided as to whether the drink does deliver its claimed effects

Red Bull’s manufacturers claims it has carried out recent research, not admissible to the ASA, which backs up its claims. The company will now have to run future claims past the Committee of Advertising Practice (CAP) copy advice team for approval before placing future adverts.
Red Bull UK managing director Harry Drnec said: “Although Red Bull do not agree with this decision, we are pleased that the situation is finally concluded and that the ASA have now acknowledged the existence of the recent research studies, which could not be taken into consideration in the investigation process.

“Red Bull’s claims and product ingredients have been subject to ongoing scientific research into both functional benefits and safety, the published results of which confirm the product statements.

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“We do not force volumes of scientific evidence down the consumer’s throat.

“Our principle is to make the product available in the right places at the right time with the right message.

“The consumer then tries it and makes up their own mind if it works.”

Promoted using the slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”, 265mn cans of the drink were sold in the UK last year.