Red Bull’s Success in Sponsorship, Marketing and Branded Content


Global brand Red Bull have used sponsorship activation, branded content and endorsements to build a unique brand that is taking over the sporting industry.

Since the popular energy drink provider Red Bull, made themselves known within the sports industry their sponsorship deals have spread further wide and across more traditional sports, but not only have they merely advertised across a range of sports, they’ve become deeply involved within their various sports. Their sponsorship marketing strategy is unrivalled to all, and has potentially changed the way many multinational companies sponsor teams.

Red Bull’s sponsorship activation techniques started way back in 1989, with a one-year shirt sponsorship deal of an Austrian football team, and since then they have gone on to sponsor an array of sporting athletes and teams, enabling the sporting world to be subjective to the iconic image of two red-bulls butting heads.

Over the years, Red Bull have tailored their marketing and sponsorship strategy that has allowed them to differ from many other brands and provided a new avenue in sponsorship and marketing for other to follow, sponsoring not only sports-based facets but also art shows, breakdancing and video game events. One of Red Bull’s most valuable and well-known has been their involvement within Extreme Sports, supporting and creating high-octane events such as the Red Bull Air Race, Red Box Soap Box Racing, as well as motor-cross events, snowboarding and cliff-diving. Not only have Red Bull invested heavily in creating events, but they’ve played a major role in supporting extreme sports from youth levels, enabling extreme sports to become increasingly accessible.

Over the years Red Bull have been able to connect with young audiences all over the world, sharing their brand identity as an enabler of thrilling events, sponsoring and being involved with over 500 extreme sports. Red bull have tailored their content strategy to incorporate ranging sports enthusiasts all over the world, and currently has its own multi-platform media company, the Red Bull Media House. Included within the media company they have Red Bull TV, where viewers can watch all live events and ranging branded-content direct from the channel. Their branded content doesn’t stop there either; in 2014 Metro UK partnered with Red Bull to create Red Bulletin, that allows Red Bull to produce a monthly publication packed to the brim with ranging branded content regarding sports, lifestyle and culture. All of the Red Bull events and sports they lie responsible for, has helped Red Bull raise their profile within the sports industry, with each event essentially acting as branded content, they’ve been able to present content to millions with engaging products.

Red Bull effectively utilised the lack of media attention that extreme sports was getting and subsequently changed that. Taking ownership of individuals and teams involved within extreme sports, endorsing the sports and indirectly promoting the brand. They’ve captured and inspired extreme sports enthusiasts and associated many exciting and engaging sports with the caffeine-filled drink with their sponsorship marketing strategy.

Its in creating the public image of the brand that has served as the majority of success for the brand. Instead of fueling money into advertising campaigns surrounding the drink itself, Red Bull have fuelled actual sports and sporting events that have taken the brand to knew heights, allowing the brand image to resonate with young people all around the world.

In their most notable case of extreme sport and branded content, the Red Bull Stratos project, which saw Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner freefall 128 kilometres from the edge of space. The jump broke the world record and generated more media attention than any other branded advert could; creating vast amounts of brand awareness with over 8 million people watching the live Youtube stream. Red bull printed their logo in several places on Baumgartner’s space suit, for all 8 million live viewers to see, the YouTube video now hold over 40 million views. Costing an undisclosed amount, the price of Felix Baumgartner’s fall has been estimated to approximately $30 million, only a fraction of the $300 million Red Bull annually spends on sports marketing, but if Red Bull have managed 40 million views on a single YouTube video, one would hope it’s an investment. In more recent times, Red Bull have attempted to incorporate brand identity outside the realm of extreme sports and have looked at sponsoring better mediated sports such as motor-racing and football in an attempt to further increase brand awareness and build an identity within increased sports fields.

Currently one of the leading Formula One teams in the championship, Red Bull Racing took over from Jaguar F1 in 2004, completely rebranding the team and have gone on to win three constructors championships since the takeover. Their involvement within F1 is a clear strategy between extreme sports, with F1 being associated with high octane speed, something that Red Bull fans are used to seeing within extreme sports.

Red Bull have also taken big step into investing in football; in 2005 they took over SV Casino Salzburg and changed the club’s name to FC Red Bull Salzburg, also changing the club colours and the logo, that represents a similar logo of the Red Bull brand. In 2006 Red Bull took over MetroStars football club in the MLS, once again completely rebranding the franchise, changing the name (now the New York Red Bulls), team colours and logo which once again aligned with Red Bull’s traditional colours. Both Salzburg and New York operate as one of the top teams within their respective leagues.

In 2009 Red Bull founded a team in the German region of Saxony, a town called Leipzig. Barred from renaming the team “Red Bull Leipzig” by the German Football federation they opted for ‘RB Leipzig’ with the RB standing for “RasenBallsport” (lawn ball sport). RB Leipzig coincides perfectly with its owner and premium sponsors initials. Over the years, mother organisation Red Bull have been able to invest heavily within the club and allowed the club to rise four divisions in seven seasons. Leipzig will be the first East German football club to be in the Bundesliga since 2009, and it’s all down to Red Bull. Arguably, Red Bull’s involvement within football clubs has, on occasion, caused rifts between fans and teams, but their investment has been second to none. In both football and across all the sports Red Bull has invested in, they’ve presented teams with an investment model that presents both support and growth.

Red Bull’s self sponsorship, marketing and branded content have helped the Austrian fizzy drink company become something much larger than a drink manufacturer. Red Bull has become a sporting brand, a brand that supports and invests throughout the supporting industry that allows for Red Bull to further market their products indirectly, it’s a sponsorship technique that no doubt others will be looking to mimic and rival in years to come.

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