A group of protestors have invaded the global headquarters of Red Bull outside Salzburg and unfurled a 400-foot banner depicting Vladimir Putin riding the company’s famous bull logo. The words “Red Bull gives Putin wings” are written in English across the top of the banner.
In a surprising move, Red Bull has refused to cut ties with Putin’s Russia, even after the country’s actions. Red Bull is still for sale in Russian grocery stores.
The protests were organized by the Ukraine Solidarity Project (USP), a network of European and Ukrainian activists exposing global brands for regressive policies on Russia. Trade deals with Russia mean that companies continue to make profits and contribute to the Kremlin, in addition to threatening global solidarity in times of economic crisis and Putin’s aggression.
Red Bull is given a failing ‘D’ grade by the respected Yale School of Management, which ranks corporations for how they do business in Russia. The drinks company says it has only suspended marketing and new investments in Russia, meaning unlike many of its competitors – such as Pepsi and Coca-Cola – it continues to sell its products there.
This week, a message from Oleksandra Matviichuk of the Friends of Ukraine 2020 party was projected onto the side of Red Bull F1 racing HQ in the UK. The message delivered an important two-minute appeal to drivers Max Verstappen and Naomi Heggella.
The Red Bull headquarters is in Fuschl, near Salzburg. Famous for its futuristic domed office buildings and a lake, the building has been the site of many campaigns. One day, USP campaigners evaded security and reached the reception building, where they proudly displayed their 20’x20′ banner.
The Ukraine Solidarity Project released a statement in which they said:
“Red Bull is a major international brand that continues to sell in Russia. This decision is highly significant and has profound implications because it signals these companies are comfortable with the illegal invasion of Ukraine. As long as they maintain their ties to Putin, they’re making it easier for him to invest in repressive policies, like illegal detention, torture, or disappearances. They need to withdraw. Meanwhile, Red Bull’s remaining in Russia means Putin gets wings.”
Red Bull has reiterated its position on Russia, stating that it has suspended marketing new investments but hasn’t pulled out of Putin’s Russia.