Row over Red Bull Jesus advert

606429 PR NEWSWIRE

Xolani Koyana

JESUS and two of his disciples are fishing without much luck from a small boat when he rises and says: “This is boring. We’re not going to catch anything today. I’m gone.”

As Jesus leaves the boat one disciple exclaims:

“Oh Jesus, how can you do this?”

“Do what?” asks Jesus.

“You are walking on water.”

The other disciple says: “I think he took one Red Bull. It gives you wings!”

“No! This has nothing to do with Red Bull!” replies Jesus.

“Could this be another miracle then?” they ask.

“There is no miracle here. You just have to be smart and find where the stepping stones are,” Jesus says at the end of the latest Red Bull TV advert.

Minutes after it was aired on Monday night, there were shoals of comments on Twitter. Most were outraged, saying it was offensive and blasphemous and calling for it to be pulled, while others saw the funny side of it.

Leon Grobler, dispute resolution manager at the Advertising Standards Authority, said they had received nearly 400 objections to the ad. “The whole day we have been flooded with complaints about the ad.

“It is quite unusual for that number (of complaints) to come through in such a short time.”

He said they would give Red Bull an opportunity to respond before deciding on the desirability of the ad.

Mark Wiley, chairman of the Provincial Legislature’s standing committee on

community safety, cultural affairs and sport, said the ad was in “extreme bad taste” and “calculated to offend”.

“It is quite apparent that both Red Bull and its advertising agency have deliberately targeted Christians, in particular, and coldbloodedly decided to mock a cornerstone of their belief system. By airing this advert at a time when religious tension the world over is at an all-time high shows a shocking lack of judgement at best and a cynical manipulation of emotions for short-term financial gain at worst,” Wiley said.

Red Bull has had a stream of complaints about its ads, especially its Biblical series which has featured Joseph, Mary and Moses. Two years ago an ad featuring Moses sparked outrage. Instead of parting the Red Sea to cross with the Israelites, Moses and the group fly over it after “drinking” a can of Red Bull.

Red Bull marketing manager Tristan Werner said: “For over 20 years, Red Bull cartoons have looked at well-known themes with a twinkle in the eye. It is never our intention to offend. This advertisement is part of a series and has now been followed by another.”

Sapa reports that the SA Catholic Bishops’ Conference head, Cardinal Wilfred Napier, said Red Bull had “overstepped a mark”, and Catholics should boycott it until Easter and donate the money to charities.

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