Soft drink maker Red Bull is in damage control after a racially offensive slide from a marketing conference was leaked to media.
The offending slide was reportedly shown at a meeting of the company’s US culture marketing team, a division of its global marketing department, in Detroit in February and a photograph of it has now resurfaced in light of the Black Lives Matter movement.
The slide shows a cartoon map of the world and singles out different countries where Red Bull is sold.
On the map, India is described as “call centres,” the Middle East as “evil-doers” with an arrow indicating “bombs go here,” and Africa as “zoo animals come from here”, while China has “they make our stuff” penned across it.
Over the map of the USA has the words “We’re #1” across it.
Canada gets “uninhabited” while the green blob representing Australia at the bottom right appears to say “kangaroos”.
Red Bull is owned by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz who had previously shown his support for Donald Trump, voiced support for right-wing parties in Austria and opposed refugee intakes into the country.
According to reports on Business Insider, the offending slide was shown by an Austrian delegation led by Florian Klaass, Red Bull’s global head of music, entertainment and culture marketing.
Apparently, Florian and his team were prewarned not to show the slide after the presentation had been reviewed a couple of days earlier by US staffers.
Some 100 delegates were in attendance when the slide was shown and, although intended as a joke, many were said to be “shocked and offended” by the image. Some even complaining to HR, although no action was taken.
Business Insider is also reporting that when US employees had complained to HR – which were of European background – about similar incidents in the past they’d been dismissed as being “overly emotional”.
There has also been media reports that Red Bull employees in the US have been frustrated by the brand’s lack of positive action in light of the current Black Lives Matters movement and have blamed it on the Austrian head office who regard it more as a “local” issue in the US.
Commenting on the leaked slide and its content, a company spokeswoman told Business Insider: “Red Bull rejects racism in any form and we do not condone language or behavior that indicates otherwise.
“We need to reflect this in our business and daily lives. We acknowledge we have work to do.
“We have dedicated internal and external resources to continue to drive towards a more inclusive work environment through education and awareness, including employee training that is currently underway. Further, Red Bull has harassment, discrimination and retaliation policies in place and investigates all complaints thoroughly,” the spokeswoman said.
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