A website set up by Red Bull to allow its caffeine guzzling consumers to stake a claim to a multi-million dollar award for failing to get the wings its ad slogan promised, crashed under the weight of interest.
The Austria-based drinks maker is to settle US lawsuits out of court, brought by a long-time user, Benjamin Careathers, who sued the biz in New York for false advertising. Two others subsequently filed cases in California.
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Careathers claimed that after a decade of necking the fizzy fuel, he did not have wings, or an improved athletic or intellectual ability, meaning Red Bull had deceived users into parting with their cash.
Lawyers acting on behalf of Careathers said they are “seeking to redress the pervasive pattern of fraudulent, deceptive, false and otherwise unproper advertising, sales and marketing practice that the Red Bull defendants have engaged in”.
“The Red Bull defendants prey upon consumers by promising that, among other things, ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ by providing a mixture of ingredients that, when ingested significantly improve a consumer’s physical and mental performance”.
Red Bull decided the best course of action was settle out of court, agreeing to refund $10 in cash or $15 worth of product to anyone that has bought the stuff since 2002.
The deal will cost Red Bull $13.5m in total, $6.5m of which will go to an estimated 1.4 million people.
“Red Bull settled the lawsuit to avoid the cost and distraction of litigation,” a spokesman said.
“However, Red Bull maintains its marketing and labelling have always been truthful and accurate, and denies any and all wrongdoing or liability”.
The company will also change future advertising to stamp out the offending slogan, just in case people continue to consume its energy drinks with vastly inflated ideas of the potential after effects.
Separate cases were brought by plaintiffs David Wolf and Migeul Almarez, California court documents show. Along with Careathers, the three stand to pocket about $5,000.
Consumer interest in the case saw people descend on the Red Bull site, energydrinksettlemen.com, which caused a crash. It is working again now - at east for the time being - and anyone wanting to make a claim must do so by 2 March 2015. ®