There were no Red Bull stickers or posters or T-shirts or hats. Red Bull held the logo sacred and only allowed the athletes that they sponsored to bear the infamous brand. We created a vision of an online channel/community (video, audio, blogs and more) that would extend the Red Bull brand into a media entity. They were already skimming in the ocean of leveraging content coupled with social media, but they had yet to deep dive into it. Our idea never took hold, but since then the brand has shifted gears and have turned their business into a true 360 degree experience. They are not just sponsors of sporting events and athletes, but have helped to bring high adrenaline activities into the zeitgeist... on their own channel.
- Plan. Not only was Red Bull Stratos a finely tuned engine of entertainment meets marketing, it's a concept that was planned out -- in detail. Choices and decisions were made (like whether to broadcast the event online or with a major television network). Think about that one example: if Red Bull had decided to run the event on traditional television, they could have been guaranteed a significant amount of attention, but it would be cluttered by other brand advertisers (think about the ads that would be run during the event). Red Bull, strategically, planned every component in an attempt to keep all of the attention on two things: the freefall and Red Bull.
- Brand as media channel. The argument could be made (and I've gone back and forth on this), that few consumers care about a brand (any brand) so much so that they would like to be enveloped in content from them. Red Bull took that thinking and pushed the idea of creating a media channel around sporting events that involve a high level of risk and adrenaline. In coalescing that community (through programming, content and even more lifestyle-based media), they were able to wrap their Red Bull banner around it, instead of the other way around. Sadly, most businesses want their brand first and the consumers second. Red Bull continues to prove that an energy drink can all be a valuable and highly-sought after media channel.
- Advertising works. By creating interest for the events and athletes that Red Bull sponsors, they have been able to leverage their advertising as an engine to both inform and persuade the public. Advertising supplements and compliments the product and the marketing. Too many brands believe that advertising should do all of the heavy lifting, and they're disappointed when their campaigns fail. Advertising works when the media is combined within the worlds of paid, owned and earned.
- Diversify the portfolio. Media pundits are harping too much on Red Bull Stratos. Don't. Spend some time on the Red Bull website, look at the sporting events they are involved with, study the types of athletes they sponsor, follow those people on Twitter and you'll begin to get a bigger perspective into the world of Red Bull and the power of the brand. They win by not doing a few things right. They win by creating a strong brand portfolio that is diversified. This includes how they advertise and it also includes how they zig and zag from event sponsors to content creators to traditional advertisers. You don't have to do everything they do (or do it at their scale), but having a diversified marketing portfolio is critical.
- Be a renegade. Red Bull did not look at other beverage companies and make an attempt to mimic or improve upon what had been done before in their industry. They decided to be renegades. These are the brands that wind up doing not only the innovative work, but the work that makes a difference. Marketing is not safe. This isn't going to sit well with the C-suite, but it's true. Marketing (everything from the product, price, promotion, placement and beyond) is a risky business. The better brands mitigate risk and create a scenario for a more favourable outcome not by being reckless renegades, but by following the rules above. They plan, they create their own media, they leverage advertising to support their efforts, they diversify their portfolio and they become the renegades. Remember: they're renegades, but not reckless renegades. There is a big difference.