Red Bull: Kings of content marketing

28th March 2018

written by George Hughes

Of all the brands nailing content marketing right now, arguably Red Bull is the undisputed leader. These guys have transcended from being a single product, Thai replicated energy drink brand, into a world renowned and globally acknowledged publisher of media, TV, print and film. From their up-to-date Youtube channel, to their television broadcasting, sponsoring some of the world’s most famous sporting events and having their own Sky Channel, to magazine publications, journalism, radio channels and lastly, creating high-end documentary films. They are doing it all and they have us gripped. But how?! And what’s the secret to their success?

Red Bull was launched in Austria back in 1987 by Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz after a visit to Thailand where he found the energy drink Krating Daeng. At that point, the idea of a carbonated energy drink in Europe had not been heard of nor thought about and the launch of Red Bull not only signified the beginning of a new product but also the beginning of a whole new drinks category. Now, Red Bull has the highest market share of any energy drink product in the world and sells almost 7 billion cans every year worldwide (wiki).

How, I hear you say? Red Bull found their audience and customers very early on. In 1988 Red Bull sponsored their first ever sporting event “The Red Bull Dolomitenmann” one of the toughest relays on the planet. They discovered that the extreme sporting industry depended a lot on the adrenaline, energy and excitement of all people involved, and that their product was perfectly suited for this type of audience, thus finding their “niche” and their ideal customers. They then began to market the absolute sh*t out of it, making a name for themselves in the extreme sporting industry and soon becoming the thrilling epitome of youth and sporting culture that we know them as today. Red Bull got their logo out wherever they could, on TV and at extreme sporting events, and promoted their energy drink to sporting athletes who would then promote the Red Bull brand. Not long after inception Red Bull had lift off. They already had 100% market share because no other energy drink had been launched in Europe at that time, so they were very exclusive and therefore very desirable. Soon, they were not just seen as a drinks brand but as a culture and lifestyle brand.

Red Bull now own multiple sports teams across the world in Europe, USA and Brazil. They sponsor incredible sporting events from Formula 1 to the Snowboarding Olympics, work with hundreds of famous athletes, have their own Red Bull sporting businesses like Red Bull Cliff Diving and, own two F1 Teams. They even have their own track racing game on Playstation 3. It’s safe to say that they have killed it! People follow them for their content and updates on their activities like a subscription for a streaming service. They have 8 million subscribers on YouTube, 11.1 million Instagram followers, 48 million likes on Facebook and 2 million followers on Twitter. Their videos on YouTube get ½ million views at least with their most viewed videos standing at 101.4 million, 44 million and 41 million.

The secret strategy? Well let’s start with Red Bull’s audience. They know their audience intimately and always put them first. Quite simply, Red Bull from start to finish have always put their customers at the heart of their business and focus on making content that they know their customers are going to enjoy. It’s not just about filming, sponsoring or hosting sporting events. For Red Bull it’s about creating moments and experiences they can share with their audience that are really exciting and very unique. They film TV content like this Red Bull Signature Series, host events like these every year, and make them accessible to everyone and anyone.

They film documentaries for their YouTube channel like “The Fearless Swedish Free-rider” that are interesting and enjoyable to watch by anyone.

But, their most popular content is stunt videos like the “Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Freefall” or their most viewed video from the free running series “Last Call for Mr Paul”.

Red Bull constantly go above and beyond (quite literally) and create content that is not only mind blowingly brilliant but also better than most of the content produced by major publishing organisations. By putting their customers first and listening to their audiences, they have become the most talked about brand of our generation. Where their customers go they go, from music festivals, concerts, art shows, to reporting on the latest and trending sports, skate parks to mountain biking, free-running in car parks and paint-balling – they’ve been everywhere and they’ve done it all!

Red Bull’s marketing strategy is to sell an experience, not a product, and this is something that any business or brand can do. Creating content that is for your customer and puts the audience first is a strategy that can work for any business. There are many other brands out there that have started to adopt this Red Bull method and become publishers instead of just selling “products”. Volvo is one such brand. They created a documentary series on Youtube titled Human Made Stories: Defiant Pioneers which features 5 episodes that look into different human stories like this one titled “Nemo Gardens”, about a man in Italy building an underwater farm.

Patagonia very quickly established themselves as a publisher on YouTube, uploading interviews, documentaries, short films and long films about the planet, sustainability and people. Patagonias Workwear series on YouTube has 27 videos and is still being updated today with new videos, these feature interviews with people who wear Patagonias workwear as part of their jobs.

Nike is another brand that is identified through their content. Yes they sell shoes but they also share experiences and promote a certain identity. Their YouTube channel also has a lot of documentary content going up onto it that is interesting to watch, like this Alex Roca Campillo – Dream Crazier which has 1.3M views.

More and more brands are implementing Red Bulls strategy, becoming publishers and creating video content for use online. However, no brand has or is doing better than them. They nailed this part of their marketing very early on and have set the tone for any brand to follow and replicate. But, looking at all the brands out there that are following suit, is a good sign that the Red Bull strategy is one that works. For businesses that aren’t implementing this strategy we would suggest starting small and working your way up to it. Start with some customer testimonials or behind the scene footage of your business and factory, documenting the way you do things and the way your products are made. Just get your content out there to the customers that want to listen and see how they respond. 

If you want to know more about audience first content you can read our blog: What is Audience-First Content?

If you want to know more about audience first video content and documentary filming you can visit our other blogs:
How Brands Can Use Documentary Style Video in Content Marketing.  

Blurred Lines. How Branded Content is Transforming Traditional Broadcasting. 

 

In today’s digital world, brands can now reach their customers with dozens of touch points from Google and Youtube to Facebook and Instagram. But there’s also a problem; with the proliferation of digital marketing, people are starting to become desensitised to online adverts – they’ve learnt how to tune out the digital ad noise.

 

As we move into the next decade of the 21st century, brands will have to work far harder to connect with their “audiences”. Conventional advertising won’t be enough. They will need to create educational, entertaining or informative content that puts their “audience-first” – putting the customer’s needs before the brand. Not only will this help them to compete for their customer’s attention, but it will also enable them to create a more meaningful relationship with their customers.

 

For consumers, this “Audience-First” video content will compete for their attention with TV programming and other forms of entertainment. The only difference is that the video content they love to watch online, will be powered by brands. For the Brands, the video content they provide will enable them to create a connection to their market and loyalty beyond anything they had experienced before.

 

A lot of major brands like Volvo, Patagonia and Red Bull already have Youtube channels dedicated to audience-first content. These include informative series about interesting people, places or topics that they know their audience will enjoy watching. Volvo run a documentary series called “Human Made Stories” looking at amazing people doing incredible things. Red Bull’s focus is on extreme sports; people snowboarding, mountain biking or surfing, where the only mention of Red Bull is a logo in the corner. And Patagonia do a series called  “Workwear” looking at craftspeople and workers doing interesting jobs. It’s not heavily branded and it’s video content that normal people love to watch.

 

So how do you get started with audience-first video content and how can you incorporate it into your own marketing strategy?

 

It’s firstly important to understand your demographic – their interests, their dislikes, their habits and their activities. You need to understand what sort of video content will resonate with them. It’s clear that a 25-year-old women in London may not enjoy watching the same content as a 50-year-old man in Leeds, unless they both share similar interests and passions. Once you’ve found a common thread to your customers, try to come up with ideas for video content that will resonate with them.

 

Social media platforms offer great tools to connect with customers and find out what they are interested by. Using Instagram stories you can directly ask your audience questions. By using “polls” or “ask me anything” tools, you can find out first hand what your audiences are interested in. So if you want inspiration for your first Youtube series then post the question on Instagram.

 

Audience-first content doesn’t have to be a massive production of documentaries or nation engaging stunts. It just has to be content that is made for your audience, whether that’s “how to videos”, interviews with experts, or recipe videos. At its core, Audience-first content should not be too heavily branded or advertorial. You need to make your audience forget there is any kind of branded message.

 

For more information on Audience-First content please feel free to give us a call or drop us an email. We always encourage our clients to explore audience-first content as we see this as the future focus for brands.

3 Easy Steps to Get Sales with Video

Video is dominating the digital marketing space at the moment and the statistics speak for themselves. According to Google nearly 50% of internet users look for videos related to a product or service before visiting a store and video ads have an average click-through rate of 1.84% – the highest of all digital ad formats. (Business Insider). But what’s the best way to drive sales for your business with video?

When it come to sales, Google describes the consumer marketing journey in its own framework “See, Think, Do”. In short, these are the 3 phases a customer goes through before buying your product. First, it is awareness of your product or service. Next, they signal an intention to buy and finally, they buy.

Whether you are a B2C brand selling a consumer product or a B2B business selling a service, you need to create a funnel of interest and leads at the start of your consumer’s journey and then guide them through these 3 steps before asking for a sale. The best way to do this is with either an online advertising campaign, an email marketing campaign or a mix of both.

1. Inform

Run some general awareness video adverts on either Google, Youtube or Social Media. This is for the people that don’t know you and haven’t even heard of you. Get them familiar with your business through targeted video adverts. Identify your audience first, decide where the best place is to reach them, then create adverts that softly introduce you to them. Don’t try to strong-arm them with a sale at this point. Brands that use video marketing grow their year-over-year revenue 49% faster than brands that don’t. (Wirebuzz)

2. Educate

Often, your ideal customer doesn’t know they have a problem that you can solve so begin to educate them. Let them know about the value of your product and why it is a good fit for them. In their buyer journey, when they are in Google’s “Think” phase, they will be seeking out information before making a decision so this is a great time to educate them. In fact, searches related to “how to” on YouTube have grown 70% year on year. (Google) Either send videos to your prospects via email (if you’ve captured their information) or re-market to them via Google or Facebook pixel. As I’ve talked about in a previous blog, think about creating videos that focus on the problem rather than the product. For example, if long distance runner is having a problem with blisters and your product solves that, then create content that unpacks “why” blisters happen in the first place, then how your product helps.

3. Offer

Buyers love a deal so run a promotion and deliver the promotion in a video. Run these videos as either 15 second adverts to the same audience you have raised awareness with, re-market to your existing audience or email them directly. Remember to have a finite time-frame on your offer and a definitive cut off point. The video should have a very strong call-to-action so prospects know how to redeem the offer. And remember to keep your videos nice and short. Nearly two-thirds of consumers prefer video under 60 seconds. (Insivia)

A recent survey by (Buffer) found that 73% of marketers said they’d create more video content if there were no obstacles like time, resources, and budget. But always consider that if you create a well-structured video marketing campaign just once, it’s much easier to then replicate it. It will be worth the time, resources and budget you may waste on less effective strategies.

If you want to talk to us about how to drive sales for your business using video then drop us a line at info@smallfilms.com

The word branded content gets banded around quite frequently but what does it actually mean? How does it specifically apply to video? And how can I use it to win more customers?

Wikipedia (always to be taken with a pinch of salt) defines Branded Content as “the practice of marketing via the creation of content that is funded or outright produced by an advertiser” as opposed to “content marketing” which “is a form of marketing focused on creating, publishing, and distributing content for a targeted audience online.” Surely then that’s different to advertising which Wiki describes as “Advertising is a marketing communication that employs an openly sponsored, non-personal message to promote or sell a product, service or idea”?

Confused? You are not alone. I’ve sat through many talks with industry leaders who often find it hard to put their finger on the true definition of “branded content”. The lines between advertising and content marketing are often blurred, but one truth remains; branded content offers value to the audience but serves the brand that created it.

If you are interested in what counts as branded content and how to define it then here’s a series of examples from the Haagen Dazs Youtube Channel…

This is their advert. No two ways about it. They are showing the product and pushing their agenda.

But then look at these three videos and their different forms of branded content.

This film was made by well-known filmmaker Morgan Spurlock. It’s a mini documentary that is sponsored by Haagen Dazs. So its branded content right? Seems simple enough.

And what about this video? It tells the story of the Jam Stand company. Seems like a classic bit of content marketing; an interesting story about these entrepreneurs, with a bit of product placement toward the end.

But then it gets slightly confusing. This video is an amazing 360 VR experience looking at the plight of the honey bee. Its a great bit of content that adds value for people watching. But it was commissioned by Haagen Dazs to shout about the social purpose work they are doing so it’s strongly pushing their agenda. So is it branded content or a clever bit of advertising?

Ultimately semantics aside, there’s one thing that unites all three pieces of branded content; they all put the “Audience-First” by offering value to the audience rather than being just a straight-up advert. And when you are creating video, this part is critical if you want to generate more interest in your company, greater customer allegiance and sales.

So how do I create branded content for my business?

Its actually quite simple to create your own branded content. It just takes a bit of planning and a strong understanding of your target audience.

Think about your customer demographics and what interests them. Then start to build a content plan around that. Remember, you are putting your “audience first”, not your company agenda. So all the videos need to be informative, educational, interesting or entertaining. Don’t push the company agenda too heavily. Give your audience something first and then be grateful when they give you their allegiance.

For example, if you are a tech company that’s developed a new app to help people find car parking spots then what content would your customers find useful? A video guide to all the different ways you can pay for parking? Videos with insider tips on parking in major UK cities? You can even start to look at concepts that are less directly aligned with your company’s purpose like “DAB Radio Stations reviews”, “How to avoid road rage” and “Cheap fuelling spots in the UK”.

If your company has a social purpose or passion that you are aligned with, then explore creating content around that. So if your Parking App company also campaigns for the promotion of electric cars or you back an environmental charity then why not start a web series interviewing interesting people about those subjects?

Back when I worked in the TV industry in the development department, we’d cook up ideas for television series in a brainstorming meeting. Once we’d considered the TV channel we were pitching to and its tone of voice, as well as the viewer demographic we were appealing to, we’d come up with ideas that we thought they might like. We’d then plan out every episode of the series with post-its on a whiteboard until we had a well-formed plan to pitch to the commissioners at the TV channel.

The same plan of action should be taken when creating a branded content plan. Think of your Youtube channel as your own TV channel and you need to create different TV series to populate that channel. How frequently do you want episodes to show? Once a week? 2 per month? And how many months will the series last before you assess its success?

Why bother when I can just run paid adverts?

The online landscape is saturated with advertising. We are bombarded with it day in, day out. People are becoming desensitised to advertising and we’re learning to tune it out. Not to say that online adverts don’t have their place; they absolutely do. They are great for brand awareness, direct calls to action and can even go viral in their own right. But if you want to cut through the noise and engage your customers on a more meaningful level then you need to be creating your own branded content video plan.

I truly believe that brands can be the driving force behind meaningful video content that adds value to people’s lives. And the good news is you don’t have to be a multi-national conglomerate to do it. In fact, for startups and SMEs, branded content can be one of the most affordable and effective ways of generating new business. So what are you waiting for?

If you want to talk to us about how to create branded content for your business then drop us a line at info@smallfilms.com

Marketing to millennials.

As the digital landscape changes and consumers become more media and tech savvy, brands are having to adapt quickly in the way that they find customers and market to their audiences. Recent research has shown that display advertising is rapidly losing its effectiveness due to the widespread use of ad blocking software and viewers’ increasing tendency to distrust and ignore explicit marketing techniques. After sixty years of overt disruptive advertising, it seems audiences are getting wise to it. Technology is putting the power firmly back in their hands. Digitally competent consumers can now decide when and how they interact with brands and demand uninterrupted digital experiences with value-adding, entertaining content to keep them engaged.

But with more global competition and marketing noise than ever, this increasing rejection of hard-sell advertising means that brands now need alternative ways of reaching their audiences. Branded video content has therefore become the newest and most effective tool for brands to engage with their customers.

So what exactly is branded content?

It’s complicated! There is much disagreement about what actually differentiates ‘branded content’ from other forms of marketing. At its very basic level, branded content is customer focused and puts the brand’s ‘audience’ first. Rather than traditional advertising which informs and persuades customers of brand benefits, branded content takes a different approach. Treating its audience as real individuals instead of merely ‘customers’, branded content attempts to foster relationships socially and emotionally with consumers through tailored storytelling and engaging creative content rather than explicit advertising. The aim is to build customer loyalty and an authentic brand-consumer relationship rather than strong-arming people into buying your products.

The evolution of advertising into branded content.

Traditionally, brands have sought to reach new or larger audiences through paid advertising with the big content publishers and broadcasters. In the past they might have taken thirty second TV commercial spots and/or bought up display or banner advertising with print or online publishers. Of course this still happens, but brands are having to become less formulaic in order to connect with and engage their customers. Traditional advertising still has a place – but is increasingly being used as part of integrated campaigns with diverse types of branded content across multiple channels. Taking a more holistic approach to content and distribution in this way enables brands to achieve the sort of in-depth creative storytelling that viewers might actively choose to consume.

Types of branded content.

The point of branded content is that it should seem less like disruptive advertising and should integrate well into the surrounding online content and TV programming. Because of this, it can take many different forms – from sponsorship of brand-aligned existing programming to full length ad break ‘programmes’, documentary film collaborations, music videos and even feature films. It is this diversity of style and content collaboration with the big publishers and broadcasters that has led to a blurring of the lines between traditional advertising and programming and between brands and traditional content publishers. As long as this doesn’t advance brands’ agendas in a biased or dishonest way – the rise of branded content can be seen as a welcome injection of creativity and funding for traditional content publishing and programme making.

Here are some of our favourite types of branded content campaigns:

 The programme sponsor:

Wickes advertising sponsors Homes programming on Channel 4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qu6w7FZmDik

The full-length ad space takeover:

Waitrose ran full-length ad break ‘recipe shows’ with Heston Blumenthal and Delia Smith between food programming and have also launched their own YouTube channel to showcase their content.

 Moving into the online space – the brand ‘hosted’ live, cross-media TV show:

Carling partnered with the Premier League and Sky Sports to host a Friday night football show,  Carling in off the Bar – a half hour live pre-match broadcast from a pub, simulcast on Facebook Live, YouTube and Sky Sports with half-time match analysis streamed live on social media and post-match analysis. An ideal cross-media vehicle for Carling to reconnect with its target audience of 18-35 year old men.

The online value-adding content collaboration:

The Performers – Gucci with GQ

Featuring 5 of the world’s ‘coolest’ guys (according to GQ), this series of films followed 5 performers as they travelled to places of personal pilgrimage to share stories of their inspirations. The characters and stories take centre stage, but Gucci accessories are ever present.

The branded content commercial break replacement:

The US Comedy Central Channel is now running a 2 ½ minute branded content series once a month instead of a traditional ad break in an effort to blend advertising with quality comedy content and keep viewers watching.

http://handytheseries.com

The documentary film content partnership:

Volvo  + Sky Atlantic – Human Made Stories

Volvo partnered with Sky Atlantic to produce a series of inspiring short documentary films centring on the emotional impact of human innovation, raising brand perception of Volvo as a progressive, innovative manufacturer and taking advantage of the increasing popularity of socially-aware content.

The Lego Movie

The best example of a brand commissioning a feature film and probably the finest and most successful piece of branded content ever created.

 

Whatever the moral ins and outs of the rise of branded content and its impact on the big content publishers and broadcasters – one thing is clear, and that is that brand influence on the digital content we consume is growing – whether audiences perceive it to be ‘advertising’ content or not. TV – be it broadcast, playback or video on demand still accounts for 76% of UK video consumption and it’s where brands want to be (Thinkbox). With other vehicles like Facebook Watch up and coming, brand-funded programming and programming agendas are definitely here to stay. The less direct approach to marketing is working – and both brands and publishers are fast cottoning on to that fact. The big brands have started the ball rolling, but surely – the smaller ones won’t be far behind?

If you would like help with creating branded video content for your business – contact us here

Small Films are video content specialists. By combining strategic minds with creative flair we create powerful stories with video that deeply resonate with audiences, supporting our clients to achieve their ambitions in growing their organisation, brand or campaign.