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Despite Woke Pressure, Red Bull Stands its Ground

AP Photo/Jenny Kane

Red Bull doesn’t tolerate racism, but it also will not take orders from the social justice mob.

Back in February, Florian Klaass, global head of music, entertainment, and culture marketing for the Austrian energy drink company, came under fire when he gave a presentation that included a slide with a map of the world “through American eyes.” For instance, an arrow pointed to the Middle Eastern region with the words “Bombs go here,” while China was labeled “They make our stuff” and Africa read “Zoo animals come from here.” According to Business Insider, several staff members found the map racist and complained to Red Bull’s human resources, but nothing came of it. 


After the death of George Floyd and in the midst of the protests that followed, more than 300 Red Bull employees signed a June 1 letter titled “Representation Matters at Red Bull,” which called out the company’s “public silence” on the Black Lives Matter movement and asked what “public stance and action” it planned. According to the company, the two executives behind the effort, CEO of North America Stefan Kozak and Amy Taylor, North America president and chief marketing officer, then leaked the letter and the offensive slide to the media. 

In response, the company fired Klaas, the creator of the slide in question. But they also fired Kozak and Taylor for leaking the letter and image to the press.

“We reject racism in every form, we always have, and we always will,” the board said in a statement. “Red Bull has always put people and their dreams and accomplishments at its core and values the contribution of each and every person – no matter who they are. We want everyone who feels this way to be welcome in Red Bull.”

According to Business Insider, both Kozak and Taylor had lobbied for more diversity in recent weeks. Taylor, who had been with Red Bull America for 20 years, was working on an initiative to increase black representation at the company. The effort was reportedly met with a lack of interest from the company's Austrian leadership. As for Klaass, Red Bull told the New York Post that the company was eliminating his position to refocus its culture activities, including “discontinuing” many of them. 


Red Bull is owned by Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, who has expressed support for President Trump, railed against intellectual elites and political correctness, and criticized Germany and Austria’s lenient policies on accepting refugees. In 2017, he also announced plans for his new media platform Näher an die Wahrheit, which translates to Closer to the Truth.

As company after company bends the knee to the “woke,” it’s refreshing to see one push back on Leftist threats and intimidation. Apparently Red Bull really does give you wings—to fly away from cancel culture. 

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