Red Bull Fires Executives, Employees Say It Highlights Tension Between Company
Red Bull has fired their CEO Stefan Kozak, president and CMO Amy Taylor, and global head of music, entertainment, and culture marketing Florian Klaass. The firings come after internal leaks showing complaints that the company has been silent on the issue of Black Lives Matter as well as the showing of an offensive slide in a company presentation, according to a report by Business Insider.
Employees at Red Bull recently leaked a letter that was sent to Kozak and Taylor on June 1 in criticism of the company’s public silence on the Black Lives Matter movement. It is believed by insiders close to the issue that the two were let go by Austrian leadership after the leak and tension over diversity issues.
“We reject racism in every form, we always have, and we always will. Anyone who knows anything about our company knows this,” said Red Bull’s board of directors in a memo.
However, it was reported by two employees that Taylor had been working on an internal project to increase Black representation within the company, but leadership wasn’t interested. It was also stated that managers were warning the staff to not leak any more information and saying that Kozak and Taylor could be fired if they did so.
In addition to the two executives, Red Bull also fired their global head of music, entertainment, and culture marketing.
A person with direct knowledge of the firings say that Klaass was let go after a presentation slide for the company featured racist stereotypes. The slide showed a world map that labeled the Middle East and Southeast Asia as “evil doers”, Europe as “pussies” and South America as “coffee comes from here I think”.
Employees say that Klaass’ Austria-based team chose to include the slide even after being warned not to do so by US colleagues.
Red Bull is made up of their Austria-based Red Bull GmbH and Red Bull North America. The firings, according to employees, further emphasize the divide between the company’s US and Austrian divisions.
Along with the firings of leadership, the company also cut down or got rid of some of their entertainment and culture teams in Canada, the UK, and Austria. They also cancelled the majority of their big cultural events, saying that they want to direct their focus elsewhere.
"Red Bull has decided to strengthen the focus of its culture marketing programs on where it makes most impact," a spokeswoman said. "Culture programs that remain include Red Bull BC One, Red Bull Dance Your Style, Red Bull Batalla de los Gallos."
Read the full report here.