Ad of the Week: Rocking the Red Bull brand
by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki) Red Bull is a brand that ‘just gets it.’ It does a moderate amount of conventional advertising — we all love those “Red bull gives you wiiiings” commercials — but when it comes to making its presence felt, the energy really excels in ‘business unusual’.
So today, instead of looking at a specific ad, I’m going to talk about the benefits of being a brand that gets how to connect with people: I’m looking at how the Red Bull brand gets ‘wiiiings’, thanks to its creative campaigns.
Four basic principles
Red Bull appears to pivot its approach on four basic principles, according to David Aaker, vice chairman of Prophet. Aaker is an uber-respected marketing analyst, brand strategist, author and professor emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley’s Haas School of Business.
- Red Bull associates itself with a wide range of people, teams and events.
- It favours owning teams and events outright, rather than being one of several sponsors.
- It has turned many of these events into profit centres.
- It manages to balance two distinct brand personalities side-by-side — namely, the brand that speaks to the serious athlete, and the light-hearted “Red Bull gives you wiiiings” brand that’s the spotlight of that fun ad campaign.
Aaker calls the energy drink “The Ultimate Brand Builder“ in his blog where he writes: “Red Bull is exceptional in telling their brand story in so many compelling, involving ways.”
One of the ways that Red Bull ‘tells its brand story’ is through innovative, interesting or mad-cap events. Many of these are flight-oriented — from the crazy ‘Flugtag’ (Flight Day) that sees contestants launch homemade flying machines off a platform into the water, to the world-record setting Felix Baumgartner who performed the longest-ever freefall from the edge of the atmosphere.
Add to those events which include skateboarding, urban snowboarding, street luge … and then there are two professional soccer teams, two Formula One car racing teams, the Red Bull X-Fighters (a freestyle motocross competition), the Red Bull Air Race (an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course) and the Red Bull Cliff Diving World Series — and you quickly realise that, as Aaker puts it, “when Red Bull backs an athlete, they get involved; it is not about a logo on a shirt.”
Loyalty begets loyalty
The bottom line is that, naturally, this loyalty to its stars and audiences is rewarded in return with customer loyalty.
So, even though it cost US$40 million to enable Baumgartner to jump from his 55-storey high, ultra-thin helium balloon at the very borderline between the atmosphere and space, between the live viewers, the 33-million YouTube views and news media reports, it’s estimated that there could have been in excess of a billion quality impressions.
The first ‘Flugtag’ took place in Vienna, Austria in 1992 and, since then, more than 35 Flugtags have been held around the world, attracting up to 300 000 spectators. The record for the farthest flight currently stands at 207 feet, set in 2010 at Flugtag Minneapolis/St.Paul. It’s an apt demonstration of the whimsical Red Bull brand personality.
Red Bull knows its target market: the young and young-at-heart who enjoy the outdoors and activities involving friends. It’s best put into words by the founder of the company, Dietrich Mateschitz: “What Red Bull stands for is that it ‘gives you wings’ — which means that it provides skills, abilities, power etc to achieve whatever you want to. It is an invitation as well as a request to be active, performance-oriented, alert, take challenges and go for your limits.”
In 2007, Red Bull launched Red Bull Media House to manage, create and market the content that these international events create; and this includes mobile, digital, audio and print.
Essentially, the economics are simple: because Red Bull owns the event, it also owns all the footage and other content that emerges, and this can then be marketed.
Add to that the brand-building benefits, and it’s a winning combination. One such event was a documentary film, ‘The Art of Flight’, and there are more films in the pipeline, from mountain-climbing adventures to exploration of the natural world.
Realising that not all of its target market is into extreme sports, Red Bull has also ploughed a lot of money into music: hosting events and promoting bands through its Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA) It also has a state-of-the-art recording and production studio, Red Bull Studios Cape Town, which provides facilities for local and international talent.
A few weeks ago, the RBMA released a free-to-download film about the world of popular music, entitled ‘What Difference Does it Make? A Film About Making Music.’ This was no low-budget production either, and it features interviews with luminaries such as Brian Eno, Giorgio Moroder, Nile Rodgers, Skream, Richie Hawtin, James Murphy, and many more.
In South Africa, an event that has taken off among a cross-section of communities is the ‘Beat Battle‘ — a hip-hop competition that sees crews such as Afro Tribal from Soweto facing off against Ubuntu from Cape Town. Due to the passionate and extended fan-base of hip-hop, word of mouth is a strong marketer for these events.
The Red Bull ‘Beat Battle’ is back this year, and the energy drink promises that “crews will be laying it all on the line as they try to level up and become Red Bull Beat Battle champs. Expect to see massive combo-breakers, multiple TKOs and a boss battle like you have never seen before!” To compete, it is a matter of selecting “your weapon, be it Freestyle, Hip-Hop, Krump, Sbujwa or Pantsula.”
Supporting local music and culture is cool, but what’s even cooler is that Red Bull also supports young startups and entrepreneurs.
The energy drink brand will be hosting what it calls an Amaphiko Academy in Soweto in April 2014. It does this, it says, because the brand’s mission is “to give wings to pioneers who are using their talents, creativity and energy to solve social problems and make a change in their communities, and to inspire a broader audience to do the same.”
That’s what takes Red Bull beyond being a quirky, fun brand, and just another energy drink. It’s taking risks in South Africa and really sticking with the people it supports. Smart brand. Awesome brand. Just the kind of brand this country needs.
Red Bull — you give us ‘wiiiings’!
Follow what Red Bull is doing locally:
- Web: www.redbull.com/za/en/
- Twitter: @RedBullZA
- Instagram: instagram.com/redbullza#
- Google+: plus.google.com/+RedBull/posts
- Facebook: www.facebook.com/redbull
Ad of the Week, published on MarkLives every Wednesday, is penned by Oresti Patricios (@orestaki), the CEO of Ornico, a Brand Intelligence® firm that focuses on media, reputation and brand research.
If you are involved in making advertising that is smart, funny and/or engaging,
please let Oresti know about it at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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