Are you a moron? The good people at some of your favourite brands think that you are. You pay a premium for their stylish, handy, delicious products, and they pay top whack lawyers to keep you safe from your own rampant, dangerous stupidity. Just as Barbara Streisand once attempted to suppress photographs of her Malibu house, inadvertently drawing worldwide attention to those photographs and leading to the coining of ‘The Streisand Effect’ there are companies whose lawyers and reputation management departments are highly trained in the art of pedicide – shooting themselves in the foot.
Take Red Bull, a company whose delicious products have not only facilitated many a long-distance road trip, prolonged night on the town, and next day recovery, but who have also brought the world such stunning spectacles and events as Red Bull Air Racing, Felix Baumgartner’s leap from the edge of space, and Giorgio Moroder’s Brooklyn DJ set. Their presence and branding are so strong that we can fill in the blank in unison: Red Bull Gives You ____.
Threats of legal action. The correct answer is "threats of legal action." That is at least if you’re the Redwell brewery in Norfolk. I’ll stop a moment and recap. For the morons out there, and there must be a great many of you for this to make sense, Red Bull make caffeinated beverages and fund daredevils. They are the global brand. The Redwell Brewery in Norfolk, according to the website, which they appear to have built themselves on Tumblr, are an East Anglian small-batch brewery. Both companies make liquids and have ‘Red’ in the title. I know – fellow idiots – that you’re struggling to comprehend all of this. An entire wall of my living room is covered in A Beautiful Mind-style scribbling just to bottom this issue out, but they’re entirely different companies.
Redwell brewery employs eight people in Norwich and received a letter from lawyers asking them to change the name of their company. Red Bull sells billions of cans of drink per year worldwide, and perhaps coincidental to a very public shaming at the hands of the Redwell brewery, has said that Redwell can continue to use their own name, so long as they don’t branch out into energy drinks.
Until extremely recently, I had never even heard of the Redwell brewery, and my view of Red Bull was overwhelmingly positive. According to their website, Redwell have been flooded with orders following this story. Just as the Streisand Effect describes instances when attempts to cover up a story inadvertently draw attention to it, the world now needs a new name, the Red Bull/Redwell Effect, when a brand’s efforts to prevent conflation of their brand with another brand are in fact the source of any and all misunderstanding. The ‘/’ denoting the confusion stirred up amongst us morons by all those clever lawyers working so tirelessly to protect their brands that they nod off and allow something daft to happen. Time for another energy drink, perhaps.