How Redbull Broke Marketing

Think for a moment about some of the most recognizable drink brands in the world. Brands like Coca-Cola and Pepsi come to mind. Over the last hundred (yes hundred) years these brands have grown into category giants, providing goods to the masses. Despite their size and history, these companies share an Achilles heel: Their brand and their product are codependent. Take one away and the other is obsolete.

Nearly a fourth the age of its competitors, Red Bull posts revenue of almost 7 billion dollars and-like the market giants-extends across the world. Unlike the competition Red Bull transcends its product. Take a second- how often do you see a commercial telling you to buy a Red Bull or even promote their drink at all? They are few and far between. Why? Redbull doesn’t have to convince anyone they should buy their product. In fact, unlike Coke and Pepsi, they don’t have to reach out to a community to get their attention. They ARE their community. They exist within, interact with, and contribute to their market and customers. Red Bull is more than a brand or a product. It is a mindset and a lifestyle.

So, how did such a relatively young company achieve such a position? By being true to themselves and their ideals. They succeeded by being the community they want to market to. They succeeded by being Redbull, and going big, going deep, and going wide.

Going Big

The Red Bull Stratos live streamed a world record jump from the outer reaches of earth’s atmosphere. It received eight million views and the YouTube video has garnered over 40 million hits to date. Redbull has planned and sponsored other death defying stunts over the years. Like one of their F1 cars doing donuts on top of the Burj’s 1000 feet high helipad in Dubai. Or a parachutist riding outside and jumping between gliders before sailing to the ground. Such a practice has contributed to two billion YouTube hits over the years. Such videos utilize only strategically placed branding, contribution to the adrenaline junkie and extreme sports community with zero product placement. Despite this, the scale of their stunts results in incalculable brand reach and awareness. A fair tradeoff, I would say.

Going Deep

Red Bull is the target community. Participating in and contributing to the lifestyle just as much as their consumers. Redbull makes it a point to host events, participate in sports, and create content for this lifestyle. Events range from “Flugtag,” where participants create unique, human-powered flying machines and launch themselves off flight decks to see who can make it the farthest. In the biking community, the yearly Red Bull Rampage is the pinnacle of adrenaline and skill, as riders fly down the sides of desert mountains over canyon gaps in the most dangerous courses conceived by man. Redbull even takes sports involvement further than the typical sponsorship by owning several teams in the soccer, F1, hockey, and more, all competing at a professional level. What other brand has such a symbiotic relationship with its market community?

Going Wide

Red Bull’s saturation of the extreme sports world can be attributed largely to the breadth of its involvement. Not only do they take part in this culture, but they touch virtually every conceivable aspect of it. They own teams and participate in sports, worldwide events, stunts, and music festivals. Each category of the culture is covered either by the Redbull Media house or their circulated publications. They even interact with students by creating brand ambassador programs, internships, graduate programs, and worldwide events like “Can You Make It?” where college students are challenged to navigate a foreign country using Red Bull as currency.

So, what is it that Redbull understands that the larger corporations are not able to? They don’t sell to their target market. Red Bull goes out and gets dirty, sweaty, and bloody with them. They speak their lingo and wear their clothes. They like what they like and do what they do. Redbull does not sell a product to their market, they are an idea and a lifestyle. They are their market.