by Gary Chapman
On the internet, most brands, especially when they try to do something to make them seem cool in the eyes of the youth, are usually met with vitriol, with people posting that “SILENCE, BRAND” meme with that crab, and decrying the content; a recent example being the Burger King fiasco. On the almost-banned service TikTok, one brand has gotten a lot more scrutiny as of late, and that is Bang Energy Drink.
One of the reasons that Bang is seeing scrutiny is how the sponsored posts do not disclose that it is an ad/sponsored post, rather tagging the Bang Energy TikTok and their CEO, Jack Owoc. The ads tend to be a standard TikTok video, either dancing or a wholesome video with a can of Bang facing the camera, or a person drinking a Bang. While some of the videos posted as of late do use #ad or #sponsor in the tags, most of them do not.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, “Disclosures that are required to prevent an advertisement from being deceptive, unfair, or otherwise violative of a Commission rule, must be presented “clearly and conspicuously,” and, “Consumers may not be looking for — or expecting to find — disclosures. Advertisers are responsible for ensuring that their messages are truthful and not deceptive.”
Another major issue is that they are advertising energy drinks on a platform where younger people are watching. According to Caffeine Informer, one 16 oz. can of Bang contains 300 mg of caffeine and the Mayo Clinic states that up to 400 mg is safe a day for a full-grown adult. One can of Red Bull has 112 and Monster has 86 mg of Caffeine.
In the UK and other places, Bang and others cannot be sold to people under 16, and you cannot really advertise it on TV on stations like Cartoon Network or MTV. So, what they did was use marketers who might have a younger audience (13-18), and use them as a model for their drink, even though Bang recommended that only people 18 or older drink the beverage.
Some of the claims that Owoc has made about Bang are downright criminal. In a video that has since been deleted, Jack claimed that “Bang products have the potential to reverse ‘mental retardation,’” which he says is inevitable “as you age,” and that the energy drinks and powders help “with all forms of dementia, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s [and] Huntington’s,” according to Truth in Advertising.