Red Bull has not officially admitted their product does not, in fact, give you wings. However, that is the impression left by a recent $13 million class-action settlement with disgruntled consumers who said the company’s claims are bogus.
Indeed, Red Bull contains “Caffeine + Taurine + B-Group Vitamins + Sucrose & Glucose + Alpine Spring Water,” as the company’s Web site explains. That may be better than a bag of hammers, but doesn’t seem to be worth much in the nutrition department.
“Red Bull is part of the trend in rebranding soda as energy drinks and, apart from setbacks like this, succeeding fabulously,” according to the Atlantic’s James Hamblin. “Red Bull differs from traditional soda only in that it contains taurine (an amino acid) and B-vitamins. Unless you are deficient in taurine or B-vitamins, the energy promised in the marketing of the energy drink comes from the sugar and caffeine, just like soda. And the caffeine content, at 80 mg per can, is modest relative to other similar products.”
Red Bull will open its wallet, but denies it did wrong.
“Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation,” the company said in a statement, as reported by BevNet. “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 did not comment on any plans back off the claim its drink “gives you wings.” In addition, the company “confirms that all future claims about the functional benefits of its products will be medically and/or scientifically supported,” according to the settlement.
The $13 million payout will likely have little effect on Red Bull’s bottom line. In 2012, the private company’s revenue was about $5 billion, and its founder is one of the richest men in the world.
But where’s that settlement cash again?
If you drank Red Bull to excess, say, during all-night editing shifts or poker sessions between Jan. 1, 2002, and Oct. 3, 2014, stand up and be counted. The suit was settled in August, but the claim site just went live. Go fill out your claim here to get $10 in cash or $15 worth of Red Bull products — though you won’t get paid until the court approves the settlement next year. No receipt required.
However: Claims are capped at $13 million, and Red Bull says it sold more than 5.3 billion cans last year. That’s a long line that won’t leave every customer satisfied. In legalese: “The cash reimbursed and/or value of the products … will be reduced proportionately among all Settlement Class Members with valid Claims if the total amount of eligible claims exceeds the thirteen million dollar ($13,000,000.00) fund.”
Forms must be filled out before March 2, 2015. Type fast.
Here’s a vintage “Red Bull gives you wings” commercial. Remember: Ornithological claims may or may not be misleading.