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How Red Bull Creates Brand Buzz

With as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, a can of Red Bull is all about energy. The brand’s promise is that it will increase performance, concentration, reaction speed, vigilance, and even well-being. How to tell that story?

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On Sunday October 14, Felix Baumgartner rose more than 24 miles above the New Mexico desert in the 55-story ultra-thin helium “Red Bull Stratos” balloon, jumped off, and reached 830 mph during a 9 minute fall, setting records for both the height of the jump and the speed of descent.

It was a Red Bull event and about 8 million of us watched it as it was happening. The post-event pictures on Facebook got nearly 216,000 likes and 30,000 shares in less than 40 minutes, and another 32 million-plus have seen the YouTube account since.

With as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, a can of Red Bull is all about energy. The brand’s promise is that it will increase performance, concentration, reaction speed, vigilance, and even well-being. How to tell that story?

It is not easy in a cluttered confusing world of canned drinks with energy connotations like Monster, Gatorade, Coca-Cola and many more. The answer is not taste or flavor claims but a host of sponsorships of people, teams, and events that involve people excelling at or appreciating extreme physical activities.

Have you seen a Red Bull Flugtag? It is a contest that challenges teams of everyday people to build homemade, human-powered flying machines and pilot them off a 30-foot high deck above a water landing. Entrants are judged not only on their flight’s distance, but the creativity and showmanship of the designs and the people operating them.

There are designs stimulated by flamboyant kites, by space age vehicles, and by entities that are hard to describe. The first took place in Vienna, Austria, in 1992 and since then more than 35 Flugtags have been held around the world — from Ireland to San Francisco — attracting up to 300,000 spectators per event. The record for the farthest flight-to-date currently stands at 207 feet set in 2010 at Flugtag Minneapolis/St.Paul.

The scope of Red Bull sponsorships is overwhelming. It gets involved in sports like wakeboarding or motorcycle racing, events like the Red Bull Air Race (an international series of air races in which competitors have to navigate a challenging obstacle course in the fastest time), athletes like Ashley Fiolek participating in motocross racing, teams like the New York Red Bulls soccer team, and facilities like the superpipe or skateboarding training in Silverton, Colorado.

via How Red Bull Creates Brand Buzz – David Aaker – Harvard Business Review.

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