Cardinal Napier comments on the RedBull ‘Jesus walks on water’ advertising campaign.

The RedBull SA Jesus walking on Water advert.

The Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference wishes to register our disappointment in the RedBull brand for choosing to flight the RedBull ‘Jesus walks on Water’ campaign. In a multi-faith country like South Africa, where over 70% of people profess to be people of faith, the use of Faith-based symbols in a satirical, if tongue-in-check manner is guaranteed to cause a reaction. We are grateful to the many people  – Catholics, other Christians and people of other faiths or no faith – who have registered their displeasure with the campaign both with RedBullSA, their marketing representatives and the Advertising Standards Authority of South Africa.

During this time of Lent which many Christians use as a preparation for the festival of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus at Easter, we question the timing of the release of the advert- which seems to be part of an international campaign. While the RedBull adverts are characterised by their cleverness, we believe that RedBull South Africa have overstepped a mark.

While we welcome the halting of the campaign, we would ask that RedBull SA undertake not to just halt the campaign, but to cancel it completely. We also suggest that the Marketing team and their Advertising and Public Relations companies make a serious effort to attend sensitivity training – people are more than consumers and faith-based symbols are more than marketing opportunities.

Much of RedBulls marketing is targeted to small shop owners, youth and young adults. In the spirit of observing Lent, we suggest that Catholic store owners and our young people fast from displaying and consuming RedBull until Easter. We suggest that the money you would have spent on RedBull be donated to charitable works. In this way, RedBullSA will understand that the idea that there is ‘no-such-thing-as-bad-publicity’ is dangerous territory when it comes to mocking religious symbols

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier OFM

Spokesman of the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference

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