Red Bull advertising executives thought they had a clever idea. They created an advertising cartoon which showed a crate containing Red Bull being being loaded on a ship. The captain walks by and asks what it contains. When he learns it is an energy drink, he is insulted pointing out they only drink champagne on his ship and orders it brought down. The deckhand says the drink gives you wings (an advertising slogan of the drink). The captain responds by saying there is no need for wings on a ship, And then the crate reveals the name of the ship–Titanic–as the captain walks away.
According to The Telegraph:
The ad has also outraged some of the relatives of the 1915 disaster which saw more than 1,500 lose their lives when the ‘unsinkable’ ship hit an iceberg in the North Atlantic. Clifford Ismay, 57, a relative of Titanic owner Joseph Bruce Ismay, condemned the advert as “despicable.” He said: “I have a sense of humour but I really don’t like the idea – in fact I find it quite sickening considering so many people died on that night. “With their slogan ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ I can only assume that they are referring to the idea that if all those people had Red Bull – or wings – then they would have been ok. “It’s despicable. I think the Titanic, and the people involved, should be treated with dignity and respect.”
42 complaints have been lodged with Advertising Standards Authority over the ad. The Titanic Heritage Trust condemned the advert. Its founder, Howard Nelson, is considering filing a formal complaint.
Now I am no fan of tacky Titanic themed products, but this ad does not get me that angry. I understand why people are offended. On the scale of offensive, I put it in the mild category. When the deckhand says it is an energy drink, Captain Smith scoffs at serving anything less than champagne. If anything, it pokes fun at the aristocratic mentality that abounded at that time. Whether it ought to use Titanic is another issue. Then again, they had to know using Titanic was going to draw ire from some. And perhaps that is what they wanted.
I had not seen the ad, so I quickly tracked it down on YouTube. I actually watched both English and German versions. So they are getting eyes on the ad but whether it translates into sales, that is something they have to determine later. I actually thought the German version more funny than English. It is how it is said in German that makes it so. At any rate judge for yourself. The English version is below but if you want to see the German one, click here.
Source: Red Bull Criticised For ‘Tasteless’ Titanic Advert (13 Sep 2013, The Telegraph)