Photos have emerged from a ‘racist’ slide show made by a senior Red Bull executive which sparked anger among the U.S. employees, and ultimately resulted in the firing on Tuesday of three top executives.
Stefan Kozak, CEO of North America for the Austria-based company, and Amy Taylor, North America president and chief marketing officer were let go, the energy drink company confirmed on Tuesday.
Kozak and Taylor had lobbied in recent weeks for more diversity in the company and were blamed for the leak of a letter that criticized Red Bull’s ‘public silence’ on Black Lives Matter.
Florian Klaass, the Austrian-based head of global head of music, entertainment, and culture marketing, was also fired.
All three were told they were losing their jobs on Monday, Business Insider reported.
Klaass had been under fire since a February presentation in Detroit to 100 employees, discussing the global reach of the company.
A meeting in Detroit in February was shown this slide, with an offensive map of the world
Florian Klass, global head of music, entertainment, and culture marketing, was fired Monday
In his presentation he showed a slide, which was leaked to Business Insider, of a world map that illustrated world stereotypes through American eyes.
America was marked: ‘We’re number 1!’ while Canada was labeled ‘uninhabited’.
The Middle East and Southeast Asia were marked as ‘evil doers,’ continental Europe as ‘pussies,’ and South America as ‘coffee comes from here I think.’
Mexico was marked ‘they do our laundry’; China was shown with the label ‘they make our stuff’; the Middle East had an arrow indicating ‘bombs go here’.
Antarctica was simply: ‘cold’.
Australia was marked: ‘kangaroos’, and Africa was labeled: ‘zoo animals come from here’.
Multiple employees said Klaass’ Austria-based team included the slide, despite being warned not to do so by U.S. colleagues.
Klass joined the company in January 2006 and is credited with overseeing the company’s expansion into music festivals and events.
The company said he was let go due to downsizing.
North America chief executive Stefan Kozak, left, and North America president and chief marketing officer Amy Taylor, right, were let go, the energy drink company said Tuesday
While Red Bull employees in the US have been pressing for the company to be more vocal about racism, Red Bull’s billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz is a Donald Trump admirer who has spoken out against ‘political correctness’.
The 76-year-old tycoon also owns a media firm which has been criticized for giving a platform to far-right activists in his native Austria.
Taylor, a 20-year veteran of the company, had been working for some time on making the company more inclusive.
She is an outspoken gay rights activist and has been commended for her efforts to make the company more open and tolerant.
Taylor wanted the company to speak out about racism and was working on a project to increase black representation but the company leadership was ‘not interested’, sources claim.
Red Bull’s billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz (pictured watching one of his soccer teams on July 1) is a Donald Trump admirer who has spoken out against ‘political correctness’
The Red Bull F1 team did put a statement out on June 22 speaking of its ‘determination to tackle the challenges that we as a sport, but also society, are facing’, saying that racism ‘has no place in our modern world’.
The main Red Bull Instagram account posted a black square on June 2 in an online trend called Blackout Tuesday, which many celebrities used as a way of showing support for Black Lives Matter.
However, Kozak reportedly told employees on June 17 that the brand would not make further public comments on the matter.
Red Bull has not commented on the shake-up of its senior U.S. staff, but said the firm was dedicated to countering racism.
‘We reject racism in every form, we always have, and we always will,’ the company’s board said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
‘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.’
Austria’s Trump-admiring energy drinks mogul: Red Bull’s billionaire CEO Dietrich Mateschitz
Austrian magnate Dietrich Mateschitz founded Red Bull in 1987 after partnering with Thai entrepreneur Chaleo Yoovidhya to adapt a drink which was popular among labourers and taxi drivers in Thailand.
Red Bull is credited with introducing Europe and North America to the concept of the energy drink, and now sells more than seven billion cans per year in more than 170 countries.
Mateschitz’s wealth is now estimated at $26billion, making him the 57th-richest person in the world, and he owns a private island in Fiji. The Yoovidhya family, which maintains a 49 per cent share, were named in the Panama Papers which outlined some of their offshore financial arrangements.
In a 2017 interview, Mateschitz expressed sympathy with Donald Trump and said the new president ‘simply needs time’.
‘I don’t think he’s as much of an idiot as he’s made out to be,’ he told the newspaper Kleine Zeitung at the time.
‘When you speak to Americans you often hear that they’re essentially happy to have a new administration. There was plenty to question about the previous one,’ he said, referring to the Obama administration.
Mateschitz, 76, also owns a media firm, and in 2017 unveiled plans to start a new platform called Closer To The Truth which was compared to Breitbart. He had previously criticised Germany and Austria’s governments for welcoming refugees at the height of the 2015 crisis.
Austrian billionaire Dietrich Mateschitz, the co-founder and owner of Red Bull
After gaining popularity in Europe, Red Bull entered the US market in 1997, beginning in California and later spreading out across the country.
By 2005 Red Bull had a 47 per cent share of the US energy drinks market, although in recent years it has faced a challenge from rival Monster.
Red Bull promotes its drinks with the slogan ‘Red Bull Gives You Wings’, while maintaining that it is marketed as a ‘conventional beverage’ and not as a ‘dietary supplement’.
The drink’s original recipe was banned in France from 1996 to 2008 over concerns about the ingredient taurine, until EU regulations forced them to relent because no health risk had been proven. Norway and Denmark also restricted sales.
Aside from its drinks empire, the firm has also become a major player in the sports world with its own Formula One team and a series of other franchises.
The F1 team won four consecutive world championships from 2010 to 2013, becoming the first Austrian constructor to win the title, with Germany’s Sebastian Vettel taking the drivers’ championship on all four occasions.
In soccer, Austrian team Red Bull Salzburg have seen unprecedented success since being taken over by the drinks firm in 2005, while Germany’s RB Leipzig have enjoyed a rapid rise since being founded in 2009 – although their wealthy backers have often made them unpopular with rival fans.
In 2006, the company moved into the US soccer market by taking over a New York team, renaming them the Red Bulls and building a stadium in Harrison, New Jersey called the Red Bull Arena.
Extreme sports events such as the Red Bull Air Race for pilots and Red Bull Crashed Ice for winter sports have further expanded the company’s brand.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel celebrates winning the Bahrain Grand Prix in 2013