Red Bull first came into the market in 1987, after Austrian toothpaste salesman Dietrich Mateschitz came to Thailand and heard about an “energy tonic”, created by Chaleo Yoovidhya. The tonic was supposed to help keep drinkers awake and alert. When Red Bull first came out, energy drinks didn’t exist, and traditional advertising was expensive. So, Red Bull went rogue and went with a different strategy. 

The first move was a guerilla marketing campaign. Red Bull utilized “Red Bull Girls ” to hand out free drinks to college students. This strategy was wildly successful, resulting in a rapid increase in sales. So, when students cramming for that exam, they grabbed a Red Bull to help them keep focused all night. Thus they simply went straight to their target audience (18-35 yr old males)at college parties, libraries, coffee shops, bars, and other places where they hang out.

By bringing their audience free samples, they put the product right in their consumer's hands. That got their audience talking, spreading the word about their product for free.

Today, they still employ a similar strategy: they go wherever their audience is at. Whether that means sponsoring a music festival or creating top-notch culture content, they'll do it.

Their second strategy is while they’re active on an array of channels and use tons of different tactics, everything revolves around one concept: creating content and experiences people would be interested in even if they don’t care about energy drink brands.

When it comes to its marketing strategy, the brand takes everything it does to the extreme. However, their marketing efforts always put the audience first. In fact, selling their product comes second. By connecting to extreme sports, Red Bull gives off an exciting image to customers.

Red Bull’s brand resonates with its target audience, another key to their success. Their ability is to sell its brand but not push their product. Their content focuses solely on the enjoyment of the reader, not selling Red Bull. In turn, their audience begins to associate their product with content that they love to consume.

For example, even on their company’s website, the focus is entirely on articles and in-depth discussions about exercise, sport, and inspiring people. There’s no mention of energy drinks, and no brazen advertising encouraging people to commit to a purchase. Attention-grabbing stories are the chief focus, and establishing credibility – while also cementing Red Bull as a brand committed to pioneering mind-blowingly exciting events is the website’s objective.

Another example is this video.

The thing to be noticed is that It’s a 30-second broadcast commercial and currently has over 2 million views on YouTube. But something else to be noticed is that the product (Red Bull energy drinks) is barely shown. Instead, the majority of the commercial focuses on the athletes and the amazing activities they are engaged in. The product has become secondary to the activities that Red Bull’s customers enjoy. Red Bull understands that its customers are young and active and they understand that customers in this age range are extremely savvy when it comes to advertising. So instead of trying to market its product to these customers (which would be a turnoff to them), Red Bull focuses its content on the activities they love.

Another huge association with the Red Bull brand is extreme sports. Their sponsorships and participation in extreme sporting events are widely recognized. They also broadcast their events online or on cable TV. Thus it is famous for its insane publicity stunts. They sent a man up 128,000 ft above the earth in a small ship and helium balloon and had him free fall out of it. This stunt, commonly known as the Red Bull Stratos Jump broke two different world records. By creating massive stunts, like the Stratos Jump, it causes their audience (and let’s face it, probably everyone else) to stop and think by bringing in the “Wow factor”.

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Thus Red Bull’s content core revolves around the intersection between their audience’s interest for extreme sports, festivals, and a fast-paced lifestyle with their product’s ability to keep people awake and give them energy during those events

The reason why Red bull became a powerhouse of marketing strategy is that

1) The first is their ability to tell a story that entices their audience

2) Red Bull puts its product second, and the content and value they can give their audience first

3) Finally, it’s their commitment to the values and aesthetic that the brand created when they first got their start that makes their marketing work

Thus all the above strategies help in brand recall, preference, attitude towards the brand, brand recognition, positive brand image, brand patronage, and satisfaction with the brand which in turn influence the aspects of brand equity. Thus Red bull had built over the years strong brand equity, turned a niche market into a billion-dollar global industry, and became a powerhouse of marketing strategies.