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Dietrich Mateschitz: Red Bull Founder and Marketing Master

Updated on February 17, 2013

Since its founding in 1984 by an Austrian entrepreneur named Dietrich Mateschitz, along with his partner Chaleo Yoovihya, Red Bull has become a dominant force in today's network of global commerce. They have become a brand that is as far reaching as it is dynamic; a premium product, a powerful force of entertainment, and use of effective marketing have all allowed Red Bull to become the wildly popular brand that it is today. Marketing lessons from Red Bull are numerous; this article will introduce and analyze some of these lessons.


One of the main ways that Red Bull has become such a marketing phenomenon is by sponsoring, and thereby associating themselves, with a wide range of extreme sports events and other spectator entertainment outlets. In this way they've been able to literally integrate themselves, as a brand, into the very fabric of a certain number of different spectator/extreme/action sports. Fundamentally, this is one of the most important marketing lessons from Red Bull; if you can manage to make consumers automatically associate your brand with a certain mainstay of their entertainment preferences, then you will have created a consumer-product bond that is far stronger than more typical or simpler forms of brand loyalty. Some of the sports and events that Red Bull has sponsored and associated with include:


1. Red Bull Stratos:


Red Bull Stratos was a project whose mission was to send a man floating up into the atmosphere attached to a helium balloon, before allowing him to plummet back down to earth. The man who actually carried out this feat was an Austrian skydiver named Felix Baumgartner; on October 14th, 2012, this brave soul was elevated to 127,851 feet above the earth and then allowed to free-fall out of his capsule. Felix Baumgartner became the first human being to ever break the sound barrier on descent without an engine to power them or a specialized craft to encapsulate them as they fell. The successful mission launched out of Roswell International Air Center in Roswell, New Mexico, and was also referred to by some during its conception as the "mission to the edge of space."


This project was a prime example of Red Bull's marketing genius; by associating their brand with this incredible feat of human bravery, potential, and spectacle, they were able to create a massive promotional event out of this whole project. People all over the world are aware of this event because of how incredibly daring it was, and because of how sophisticated and impressive the engineering behind the technology was. It was such an impressive embodiment of human capability and possibility, that its hard to believe at the end of the day it was basically a giant endorsement of Red Bull and all of the amazing things that it is capable of doing for its consumer.


2. Red Bull Crashed Ice:


"Crashed Ice" is a Red Bull sponsored world tour featuring the winter extreme sport known as downhill ice cross. It is a downhill ice skating sport that uses giant courses that have dauntingly steep vertical drops as well as difficult turns that must be negotiated by some of the world's foremost ice skating athletes (typically amateur and professional ice hockey players). These courses are technically advanced, featuring state-of-the-art freezing systems that circulate an extremely cold chemical solution through piping beneath the track. In this way, the track's designers and builders are able to freeze water at a uniform thickness even on very steep sections of the course.


"Crashed Ice" is a great example of the way Red Bull sponsors only the most fun to watch and extreme events, so that its brand recognition and validity stay high. This event is such an incredible sight to see because of the intense speeds, and high risk of navigating down one of these dangerous tracks, and it is for these reasons that Red Bull would seek to use this event for a promotional capacity.


3. Red Bull Air Race World Championship:


The first official annual season of the Red Bull Air Race World Championship debuted in 2003, and has occurred every year since. This wildly popular event features airplane pilots from around the world, all competing for the title of World Champion race pilot. These fearless pilots use high-grade performance aerobatic airplanes, some of which include the MXS-R, the Corvus Racer 540, and the Zivko Edge 540. These high-tech planes can travel at top speeds of about 260 mph, and all of them have a wingspan of less than 25 feet across. During a racing trial, an individual racer will navigate their way through an airborn course of pylons (vertical columns that determine the path a racer must follow), in an attempt to achieve the fastest time possible.


The Red Bull Air Race may be the most important component of Red Bull's extreme sports marketing campaign, due to the fact that this Air Race World Championship is an annual event, and so it is a continuously functioning marketing tool that Red Bull can depend on for years to come. This event has gained so much notoriety internationally, due in large part to the fact that it airs on television in many parts of the world. This gives the Air Race World Championship a huge advantage in terms of its ability to actually generate hype for the product, and demand for it as well.


In addition to the huge amount of money and resources Red Bull invests in this kind of extreme sports marketing, they also invest in their more mainstream advertising as well. They are responsible for one of the most memorable ad-campaigns of recent times; the "Red Bull gives you wings" ad slogan. With this combination of effective mainstream advertising along with more niche oriented marketing, Red Bull has transformed itself into more than just a brand. It has become a corporate powerhouse, with interests that over the years have become far broader than the relatively simple energy drink which started their whole rise to success. Marketing lessons from Red Bull are many in their numbers, and highly substantive with regard to what they can teach advertising professionals and businesses about being truly effective when it comes to creating an image for their brand.

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