Even though Red Bull has been credited with inventing the energy drink industry, they do not sell you an ounce of it. If you look closely at their marketing, they sell you adrenaline, they sell you action, they sell you passion. They just happened to bottle it into a small blue and silver can than contains taurine. That is one of the most masterful sales in history. Go to their Facebook page which is closing on 34 million fans as of this writing, and you will be hard pressed to find a single picture or a mention of their bottle. As a matter of fact go to their homepage and you will also have great difficulty finding a single picture of their product on such prime real estate. Red Bull marketing does not sell you drinks it sells you a lifestyle.
What follows below are simply my own thoughts as to what I see as the (r)evolution of the biggest marketing machine currently in existence. I am not promoting its products nor the philosophy that it projects; it does a well enough job by itself. As a lifelong student of marketing, I marvel as to what Red Bull marketing has accomplished. Most people are familiar with the Red Bull brand, yet very few people even know where they are based (the answer is at the end of the article).
People still remember the first Red Bull commercials on TV. Those were very simply drawn cartoon commercials. It is to this day that people still remember the “Red Bull gives you wiiings” commercials. Below is one from that series.
The online marketing angle to this story is that through Red Bull marketing strategy they have amassed a huge social media following. Red Bull’s Facebook page is ranked 41st. Ahead of Starbucks, Harry Potter, and McDonalds. There is only one beverage company that is ahead of Red Bull in Facebook rankings: Coca-Cola. It would be wise to watch its back…in more ways than one.
The skydive jump for Felix Baumgartner was delayed for weather reasons and critics were questioning why would Red Bull dump so much money in sponsoring such an event? Why, they asked? Well, for one it broke the record of the most watch live streaming event on YouTube. Over 8 million people watched it worldwide live on YouTube. The previous record you might ask? It was the London Olympics with an audience of 500,000 concurrent streams. Red Bull smashed the previous record by a multiple of 16! No small feat indeed. Then, according to the Huffington Post:
besides YouTube, the jump was shown by more than 40 TV stations and 130 digital outlets. Red Bull’s Facebook post-jump photo of Baumgartner gained almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares within 40 minutes, and half the worldwide trending topics on Twitter were related to Red Bull Stratos.
Do these benefits translate into profits for the company? That is hard to say since Red Bull is private and does not report its financial statements; however, it would be a very safe bet to say that the skydive from the edge of space, the three-peat Constructor’s Championship in Formula 1, along with Sebastian Vettel’s three-peat Formula 1 Driver Championship cannot have hurt. In fact it is known that back in 2010 it sold 4.2 billion cans worldwide with just over a billion of them here in the United States. That represented a jump in revenue of 15.8% year over year. What was Coca-Cola’s? Between 3 and 4%.
There is no question that Red Bull Marketing is a force to be reckoned with. I sincerely believe that 2012 will be shown to have been the inflection point in Red Bull’s meteoric rise to the top. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, strategy is not about doing things better, it is about doing things differently. Red Bull has thrown the old marketing book out the window and is writing its own. We should all be so lucky to peruse it.
And just in case you are still wondering, Red Bull has its headquarters in Austria near Salzburg (birthplace of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) in a town called Fuschl am See. Not your typical seat of a multi-billion dollar conglomerate. Yet, there is nothing typical about Red Bull nor its marketing.
All relevant comments are welcomed and encouraged.
This article was written by Pablo Davidov