Across The News

« Reb bull gives you wiiiiinnngs »

Posted on: mai 9, 2011

Creative, innovative, different and sometimes shocking, international advertising is everywhere… But how brands are adopting a global marketing strategy? Let’s take Red Bull as an example.

Founded in 1987 by Dietrich Masteschietz, the brand has taken almost the half of the US market for energy drinks and up to 70% of the market globally, in more than 100 countries. “Despite his obvious dislike of the spotlight, he cannot escape his success. Last year, 2.5 billion Red Bull cans were sold around the world, generating €2.2 billion in turnover. One billion cans were sold in America, 272 million in Britain, 150 million in Germany and 130 million in Austria — the biggest markets.” (The Sunday Times – Big man drives forward energy-packed brand).

Red Bull bases its strategy on 4 pillars:

Sport Sponsoring: 1st and most important pillar of its marketing strategy, the sport sponsorship is used since the creation of the brand. Indeed, because of political issues (ex: France banned the product during 12 years) the brand has been known as a forbidden product. As we know, everything which is forbidden is attractive. Being more and more popular, the brand decided to advertise through others Medias.


Sampling: The role of Red Bull’s sampling teams is to communicate the benefits and effects of the product directly to the customer and report back.




Another strategic programme to provide « cool » postsecondary students with free cases of the drink has been developed, in order to convince them to throw. Also Red Bull Has developed MET (mobile energy team) programme: people who drive specially designed Red Bull Racing Car.

However, in order to have a successful marketing strategy, the brand has to understand the variables contained in every target market (political, cultural…). Indeed, some markets react differently to some marketing strategies than others and because the commercialisation of a product used to be consumed by athletes to improve their performance, Red Bull is considered as a non standard product.

We can confirm that the company first entered markets with similar language (or countries which inhabitants are mostly familiar with English), similar law and political systems, business practices, marketing infrastructure, industry structure and culture. But the brand as to face with the language issue and had to readapt its strategy.

Indeed, according to the country, we notice different perceptions and meaning of “excitement”, one of the brand’s characteristic. In UK, “excitement” is associated to with being young, contemporary, spirited. In the US and Spain, it also conveys imaginativeness, uniqueness, and independence, whereas in Japan it includes talkative, funny and optimistic.


Moreover, the brand plays a lot on the humour. But in 2007, an Italian priest has persuaded Red Bull to withdraw an advertisement setting its product in a nativity scene on the grounds it is disrespectful to Christianity. Considered as an « a blasphemous act ». The ad depicted four wise men, instead of three, visiting Mary and the Baby Jesus in Bethlehem. The fourth wise man bore a can of the soft drink. Priests also objected to the company’s slogan, « Red Bull gives you wings », said by angels in the animated advert.


Red Bull Christmas Campaign


Do you really think the commercial needed to be banned? For me, the commercial is quite funny and take a nativity scene as a base, is not worth than Benetton’s poster with the baby, in its campaign “The cycle of the life” (i.e the previous post).

Other factors such as consumer buying patterns and interest also affects such decision. When Red Bull targeted Europe, they used a small, thin can which worked very well in Europe as it generated a perception of quality. However, when Red Bull went to the USA, the American consumers did not initially like the small cans since their consumers prefer drinks in bigger, Red Bull had to adapt their packaging to their consumer need and launched 500 ml cans.

“It’s quite normal that you spend millions of dollars on marketing on TV, but here it’s marketing investment in assets,” Mateschitz says. Spending millions of dollars on advertising , the Red Bull’s prime focus on their marketing in the USA and Europe has been through sponsorship of extreme sports (bmx, skateboarding, F1 and now that extreme aeroplane sport). Those campaigns have been fairly standardised as it successfully creates a brand characteristic of a extreme, modern, cool product. Last September, The UK leg of the Air Race, an aerobatic speed event spanning seven countries, took €400 million (£272 million) of Red Bull’s annual marketing budget. However, to enter in china for example, the brand had to change their campaign since such extreme sports are frowned upon in areas of Asia and in some states are in fact banned.

As the result, the company, with its slogan « it gives you wings » and its product aggressively marketed, spending millions of dollars through advertising, tournament sponsorship (Red Bull Air Race, Red Bull Crashed Ice), sports team ownerships (Red Bull Racing, Scuderia Toro Rosso, EC Red Bull Salzburg, FC Red Bull Salzburg, Red Bull New York, RB Leipzig), celebrity endorsements, and with its record label, Red Bull Records, music , has to adapt its communication in function of the host country.

I am wondering now if international advertising has a really impact on consumers… Indeed, studies show that on average, we see 3000 ads per day, but when was the last time I bough a product after seeing an ad ? What I can say is advertising will have, for sure, a direct or indirect impact on you. Let me take a personal example. I really don’t like the taste of the red bull drink but who never drank a vodka red bull in a bar or in a club? Because, it is cool, because it is modern and trendy, because my friends drink it, and because “Red Bull gives you wings” and energy when you are tired, (brand’s characteristics), I drink red bull too. What about you?



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