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Red Bull, an energy drink, was born in the early ’80s after an encounter between Dietrich Masteschitz, a toothpaste salesman from Austria, and Chaleo Yoovidhya, a Thai businessman. On tasting Krating Daeng, the local energy drink manufactured by Yoovidhya’s company, Masteschitz went into partnership with Yoovidhya and spent the next few years perfecting the brew to launch it internationally.
Ever since then, Red Bull’s been mainly targeting a segment of 18- to 34-year-old men based on their interests—being outdoors, taking risks and having fun. The brand began sponsoring “edge sport” athletes, like base jumpers, BMX racers and mountain bikers, as well as “e-sports,” which did not have many big brands attached to them. This meant Red Bull pulled its audience in, rather than pushing messages out. Even though these were niche sports, each one Red Bull picked had strong audiences and followers who fit its target audience profile.
We see brands struggling to expand their worldviews beyond traditional marketing to gingerly step into creating content for their customers, primarily to please Google and its unforgiving search algorithms.
Red Bull, however, was one of the first brands to create content that its audience actually sought out.
On Red Bull TV, the brand shows extreme sports videos, culture and lifestyle content, live music programming and long-form documentaries (which I think of as reality shows). Plus, there are multiple seasons of its own original series, such as “Who is JOB” or “The Atherton Project.” It’s all streamed live online. Red Bull TV is freely available to everyone on their laptops, tablets and other mobile devices, or television sets via plugins like Chromecast or Apple TV.
The Red Bulletin is Red Bull’s magazine. It started off as a daily newspaper, handed out in F1 paddocks on race weekends and today is a monthly magazine with a circulation figuring in the millions across 11 countries. It comes complimentary with dailies like The Sunday Telegraph, and is sold on newsstands around the world.
Meanwhile, most brands try a host of tactics to grow their email lists, such as using lightboxes—or pop up forms—on their home pages or importing emails from their social media accounts. Red Bull does it differently. With an eye on influencers, Red Bull offers content—images, videos, interviews and more—free through the Red Bull Content Pool. All they ask for in return is an email address. [Editor’s note: Red Bull adds that the Red Bull Content Pool is aimed at “editorial media” and third-party “media partners” can license the content. Also, a spokesman for the brand says Red Bull “has always had a conversation with its consumers” and added in social media—YouTube in 2006, Facebook in 2007, Twitter in 2009 and Instagram in 2010—for that reason.]
After the content pool effort proved to be a success, the brand created the Red Bull Media House in 2007 to earn revenue from third-party brands by selling them Red Bull’s original content.
These efforts and more help Red Bull bring in nearly three times the worldwide sales that its nearest competitor makes.
Instead of giving its customers five reasons to buy its brand of energy drink, Red Bull has stepped into its users’ shoes and is saying, “You guys are so cool! Let’s hang together.” And its users seem to prefer being cool and doing exciting things with their favorite brands over being “sold to.”
Learn even more about the convergence of technology and branded content at the FUSE Enterprise summit. Artificial intelligence and personalization will be featured among many other techniques and technologies.