Red Bull has agreed to pay $US13 million ($A14.76 million) to settle a class action lawsuit over alleged false advertising of its energy drinks.
As part of the proposed settlement, anyone living in the USA who bought a Red Bull can from January 1, 2002 and has a valid claim will be able to receive either a $US10 ($A11.35) reimbursement or two free Red Bull products with a retail value of approximately $US15 ($A17).
At the centre of the class action is Benjamin Careathers, who had been drinking Red Bull since 2002. He brought the class action suit in January 16, 2013 in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, claiming that the Austrian company’s tagline 'Red Bull gives you wings' was misleading. The idea that the energy drink would increase performance and concentration, as advertised on the company's television, online and marketing campaigns, was 'deceptive', the suit claimed.
"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 said.
The class action cites articles by The New York Times, Nutrition Reviews and the European Food Safety Authority Journal, which claim energy drinks provide their boost through caffeine alone, not guarana or any other ingredient.
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.”
Despite settling the lawsuit, Red Bull has denied any wrongdoing. In a statement to Bevnet, the company wrote: "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."
Red Bull has "voluntarily updated its marketing materials and product labeling" for consumers in the United State and has established a website for people wishing to make a claim.
The court's final approval hearing will be in May 2015.
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