James O'Brien writes for The Content Strategist, a digital magazine by Contently, the leading technology company for brand publishing tools and talent.
Instantly, you're browsing videos of a 12-year-old skateboarder nailing the world's first ever 1080 (that's three full revolutions) during a ramp jump. Perhaps by painting around the edges of Red Bull's content machine, we can glimpse what's inside the can. When we talk about "content marketing," we mean the creation of storytelling material that attracts readers, viewers and listeners to a brand.
The idea central to content marketing is that a brand must give something valuable to get something valuable in return.
In the early 1980s, Austrian toothpaste salesman Dietrich Mateschitz (left) stumbled upon a Thai energy drink, at the time called Krating Daeng. By 2011, Mateschitz controlled 44% of the exploding energy drink market, according to Symphony IRI, and was selling 4.6 billion cans a year, most purchased by men between the ages of 18 and 35.
On the fourth floor, the elevator opens onto an immaculate space: shiny grey floors, high white ceilings roped with pristine refurbished industrial ductwork. The woman at the desk is pleasant, but this reporter is not going to get his interview today, she says.
Red Bull Media House got its start in Europe in 2007, then expanded to Hollywood and New York City. Part Associated Press for action sports content, part production company, RBMH has an IMDB page and a sports magazine, with circulation comparable to Sports Illustrated. Spidering across the media universe are snippets from the Red Bull Content Pool, a well of fan images and videos — material like the wingsuit video, the skateboarder and plenty more. While Red Bull provides a portion of its more than 5,000 videos and 50,000 photos to users free-of-charge, most of this stuff is professionally high-end enough to be network-ready.
At Halogen, which reaches viewers via cable with a message of positive change, Red Bull inked a multi-year deal for Thursday night programming. The company also publishes a print magazine — The Red Bulletin — with a distribution of about 5 million.
As a hiker, biker and jet-packer, Thorson's feelings about the content are a testament that the brand's power exceeds its product.
One might ask a Red Bull executive whether the company's media forward thinking means the loss leader is the content. His version of athletics bonds martial arts with ballet, then tosses the whole thing into a kind of urban, cross-country blender. Red Bull Media House has swiftly progressed toward something that looks more like a studio model than an advertising agency. For instance, in 2009, Red Bull employees went to European bars that sold only Monster, a competing energy drink, and cracked open smuggled Red Bulls to suggest dissatisfaction with the other choice. Red Bull is still, from time to time, drawn into the debate over whether the enzyme taurine, one of its oft-mentioned ingredients, really enhances body and health performance. Another flap occurred in the German market in 2009, when several states banned the beverage after trace amounts of cocaine were allegedly found in the mixture. He suggests that the blowback might be more problematic for company officials and investors, however, than for anyone who loves to watch a race car or tune in to a video featuring Doyle's freerunning. The receptionist has taken his business card, but declined to say with whom the reporter can follow up.
A short while later, the woman from the reception desk gestures toward a pod-like vending machine. The energy drink world has long been dominated by Red Bull, with Monster forever lingering in second place. BevNET reports that Rockstar has reached the $1 billion annual threshold for the the first time this year, and skyrocketed up 18 percent from last year in terms of dollar sales. Now, it's third in its category -- behind Red Bull and Monster -- and it doesn't advertise nationally.
It's all about how consumers perceive themselves when they're drinking it, not the taste of the drink. Just because they don't put up big TV spots doesn't mean Rockstar doesn't promote itself -- the brand spends more than double the industry average on promotion. Rockstar is also prevalent in the extreme sports world, but it's also heavily into entertainment, piling on that idea of a rockstar lifestyle.
Red Bull has created an incredibly powerful brand, largely through the use of online videos. And with consistent content, Red Bull is able to grow its subscriber base consistently, meaning its reach spreads further and it draws in even more viewers.

Putting out so many videos also shows a commitment from the brand to give its viewers what they want, which – in Red Bull’s case – is high octane adventure videos.
To that end, the video content Red Bull puts out revolves around extreme sports, skateboarders, snow sports, and anything else with a dangerous edge to it. To add to the epicness, the video was streamed live, creating a massive buzz around the internet and a moment everyone shared.
Telling stories is the perfect way to form a real bond with your audience, because it shows that you are human – and that is what people relate to. It’s abundantly clear when watching Red Bull videos that it gives back to its community.
Telling stories gives Red Bull a humanity its viewers can relate to, which strengthens the bonds people feel towards the brand. In short, the reason Red Bull is so successful is because it’s the king of online branded video content.
This entry was posted in Video Marketing and tagged redbull video marketing, Redbull videos, redbull vidoe case studies on 6 March 2013 by Neil Davidson.
If you would like to learn more or just have an informal discussion over a coffee, then just send us a note. You are absolutely right that Red Bull has been successful because it commands loyalty from its audience.
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You may not, except with our express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Lately, every conference PowerPoint on the future of advertising or PR seems to mention Red Bull as a — if not the — shining example of a brand-turned-publisher, what every future-leaning agency encourages its clients to emulate. It doesn't have to be a commercial on cable television or the 28 annoying seconds before the start of that next YouTube hit.
He recognized that if he transformed Krating Daeng from an obscure local remedy for sluggishness into a more universal concept, he could create a new beverage category. They're voracious endorsers of the brand, and that's because, with the beverage, Mateschitz commandeered — if not created — a new, high-octane lifestyle category.
An umbrella for Red Bull's massive print, television, online and feature film production, RBMH employs over 135 people, according to its LinkedIn profile. And it shows up on the news, from MSNBC to ESPN, and in specialty markets such as Halogen TV.
From the action sports roundup Ultimate Rush to street sports shows, such as Breakdance, this is the Red Bull brand idea, front and center on cable every week. At the other end of the spectrum there is Red Bull, characterized at "run" on Lieb's graph. If you had to distill the Red Bull aesthetic into one such athlete, you'd end up with a performer most probably like Ryan Doyle. He can float across a slanted roof, roll along the railing on a flight of stairs, launch himself into and off of solid concrete surfaces, and descend from heights in freefalls that would put most of us in traction. While some see this as a new creation, others suggest it actually reflects an older dynamic. Never mind the early rumor that its ingredients included an extract from the testicles of bulls.
The company maintains Red Bull is safe to drink, and that its own tests didn't turn up any cocaine. Shankman is also a skydiver, and his own website carries photos not so far removed from the Red Bull kind. The sleek red couches, over near the elevator doors, are a good place to sit and wait for the Media House staff who aren't coming. Powered by its own proprietary technology, Mashable is the go-to source for tech, digital culture and entertainment content for its dedicated and influential audience around the globe.
Even the function of the drink (that energy boost factor) usually outweighs the taste in this beverage category. Everything about Rockstar fits together -- scantily-clad women, the promise of an celebrity lifestyle and fast-paced excitement. Red Bull focuses everything around its "Red Bull gives you wings" tagline, which you see often in big TV spots. Its empowering, aspirational tone is stronger than the other brands, promising to help you achieve that lifestyle. Its YouTube channel grew by nearly 250,000 subscribers in January alone, taking it to a total of 1,452,411.

It uploads several videos to YouTube every week, which provides a lot of exposure for the brand.
It’s positioned its beverage as the go-to drink for people with a lot of energy who want to do awesome things.
It also puts out a wide variety of videos, from short 30 second teasers to TV-length features, therefore appealing to a wide variety of users. YouTube is a widespread medium for sharing videos – everyone knows what it is, and everyone knows how it works, making YouTube the perfect foundation to build a viral video marketing strategy on.
Each video is a miniature story, and each one gives viewers something to relate to, something to connect to.
It funds, sponsors and invests in talented extreme sports athletes, giving them exposure and helping them build a career around what they love. Red Bull has been so successful because it’s built a brand that commands loyalty from its audience. Giving back to its community and resisting the temptation to make the actual product the focus of the videos is a more subtle way of connecting with the audience; it shows a certain respect towards the viewers, which in turn means the viewers respect the brand right back.
It’s turned its brand into an experience, rather than a simple energy drink – and video is the ideal medium to accomplish this. However, Red Bull has a lot of wherewithal to fund all these awesome videos and for the local business owner it is not that real that he can accomplish the same impact by using video. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.
And so, he wrapped the drink in a blue and silver can, and then he wrapped that can in a platinum marketing campaign. In the giant front windows, huge images of skiers, surfers and airborne motocross machines loom above a diagonal, six-way intersection. The movie cost a reported $2 million to make, but when it hit iTunes in 2011, it parked atop the charts for more than a week — bringing in $10 per download. And while its in-house staff kept the reporter running in circles, some of its freelancers and athletes opened up about their experiences. He is a devotee of parkour athletics, which emphasizes speed and agility, overcoming obstacles with no equipment. Instead, the company found itself in legal hot water and a minor PR flap: Posing as a customer in such a setting is illegal in the European Union. That's what the core demographics of energy drink consumers (teens, college kids, and young adults) want. It primarily sponsors sports like snowboarding, freestyle motocross and air racing to drive its message home. The more videos there are, the more videos people will watch – and if people are exposed to a brand a lot, they’re more likely to remember it.
People who drink Red Bull are adrenaline junkies or, more importantly, they’re people who want to be adrenaline junkies. They take a huge amount of investment now but they have scaled to this point from humble beginnings. And if viewers relate and connect to your video content, it has an emotional impact on them and gives the brand a sense of purpose. Sure, the logo is featured on the clothes the athletes wear or on a backdrop behind a ramp, but that’s usually the extent of it. Offering up regular, relevant, epic content for free shows that Red Bull is committed to giving its viewers what they want. Video can help form a highly engaged audience that shares content widely, because it so easily allows a bond to be formed with the audience. The value returned is often that people associate good things with — and return to engage with — the brand. Red Bull apologized and attributed the whole idea to "overzealous junior employees," according to a report in Marketing. Doing this not only provides Red Bull with the material it needs to put awesome videos together – it also shows its wider community (the people who watch the videos) that Red Bull is actively helping these athletes find their place in the world.
Sometimes a video will feature somebody grabbing a can of Red Bull towards the end – but the focus is always on the athletes and the incredible feats they accomplish.

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