Red Bull: Kings of content marketing

7th May 2019

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. 

 

As recently as 5 years ago, the vast majority of us would have tuned into our favourite show via our TV sets… at home… probably on the sofa. Today, the picture is very different. Almost half of adults aged 22 to 45 are not watching content on traditional TV platforms (AdAge) and 64.8 million people born between 1981 and 1996 will watch streaming videos or downloaded videos on a device at least once a month (Forbes). TV as we know is dead. Long live online streaming! Of course, TV isn’t actually dead. But the way we consume it has changed forever. Many people will still flick the TV on to catch their favourite series as it is released whether that’s X Factor or Silent Witness, but for most of us, on-demand has replaced live viewing as our preferred method of consuming any type of television content. And for Millennials and Generation Z who have come of age in a digital world,  BBC and ITV are increasingly shunned in favour of subscription based services like Netflix or Amazon or user generated content sites like Youtube. 

 

The writing has been on the wall for analogue TV for at least 2 decades and when the analogue signal was switched off in 2017 forcing every individual to access television via a digital box, it wasn’t a great surprise to the industry. The emergence of super-fast broadband that removed the need to have a sky dish or cable TV to access more than 5 channels of television was one of the biggest driving factors behind the shift in the television landscape. That… and the arrival of 3G and cheap mobile data which has allowed video streaming in the palm of your hand.

 

It’s surprising to find that Netflix has actually been around since 1997. It started life as a DVD rental business but began streaming online video in 2007, just 2 years after Youtube was founded. Today Netflix has 139 million paid subscribers worldwide and on Youtube, one billion hours of content are watched every single day. YouTube is ranked as the second-most popular site in the world after Google (Alexa Internet). And, whilst Netflix and Youtube may have paved the way for online video, there are now dozens of different streaming platforms from Disney+ to Apple TV, Now TV to Facebook Watch, TikTok, Instagram TV and Amazon Prime.

 

There’s huge money behind these platforms. Facebook will spend a “measly” $1 billion on video content this year compared to Amazon’s $4 billion spend last year and Netflix’s projected $8 billion spend for 2019 (Media Post). Also this year, Amazon and Netflix have said they will be investing in UK TV production, and will help to promote these shows on both platforms (Video News). However, the question is, will this bring traction to TV broadcasters or, will audiences be tuning into their SVOD (Streaming Video On Demand) services to watch the shows? An Ofcom report released in the summer found that huge investment in original content by digital players has seen subscriptions to SVOD services in the UK overtake subscription to pay-TV services. Ofcom also found that last year that after a period of sustained growth, pay-TV subscription revenues fell in the UK for the first time, falling by 2.7 percent to £6.4 billion. Unsurprisingly as UK consumers turn their back on conventional television viewing in favour of subscription based streaming platforms, they also turn their back on advertising. TV advertising income fell significantly last year, declining seven percent year-on-year in real terms to £3.9 billion (Video News).

 

So what does this mean for brands who have, in the past relied on TV advertising to reach their customers? You guessed it, they’ve started to pump more and more of their budget into online advertising. Last year, digital advertising increased by 9.5% in the UK (emarketer) with video being the fastest growing medium. The exciting thing is that marketers looking to get an edge over their competitors are putting budget behind incredible branded content that is shining a spotlight on their products and services. Volvo, Heineken and Dove are not only running heavy hitting multi-channel campaigns with a hero piece of video content at it’s heart, but many like Patagonia, Red Bull and Nike are becoming publishers in their own right with Youtube channels that include regular, engaging video content that is enjoyed by millions of people.

 

As we, the consumer, become accustomed to subscription TV viewing, the days of sitting through 5 minutes of TV adverts seem like a distant memory. No surprise then, that we actively avoid spending time online in places where we are being hit with constant adverts. With Youtube releasing its own subscription service, it begs the question how long we will have to wait before Facebook, Instagram and other platforms follow suit? Moving forward, brands will have to work harder and harder to get their message seen by their audience and commissioning branded content will be one of the best ways to do that.

10th May 2019 - Big Tips

Increase School Admissions with Video

15th May 2019 - Big Tips

Timeline of Online Video Streaming

7th May 2019 - Big Tips

Tv is Dead. Long Live Online Streaming

15th November 2018 - Big Tips

What is audience-first content?

4th November 2018 - Big Tips

3 Easy Steps to Get Sales with Video

26th October 2018 - Big Tips

How to Win Customers With Branded Content

16th January 2018 - Big Tips

9 tips for making a viral video.

7th December 2017 - Big Tips, Tips & Tricks

How much does a corporate video cost?

1st August 2017 - Tips & Tricks

5 TIPS FOR THE PERFECT ONLINE MARKETING VIDEO