Red Bull brand strategy / positioning case study

Red Bull Brand Strategy Analysis
Red Bull

FMCG Non-alcoholic beveragessports & energy drinks; Media & entertainmentdigital media

Owner of the brand:
Red Bull GmbH

Key competitors:
Monster, Rockstar, Lucozade, NOS, Burn, Mountain Dew

Brand essence

An energy drink revitalizing body and mind.

Brand values

Energy, adventure, performance, passion.

Brand character

Young, masculine, edgy, adventurous, premium, energetic.

Dominating archetype

Red Bull was launched in 1987 in Austria by Dietrich Mateschitz. Mateschitz, who previously had worked for marketing departments at Unilever and P&G[1], came up with the idea of the energy drink while traveling on business to Thailand. It’s where he discovered a local product called Krating Daeng (Red Bull in English) that was targeted primarily at blue-collar workers, which helped him recover from jet lag. In cooperation with the company behind Krating Daeng, he modified the product formula so that it was better adjusted to the needs of the Western market. In other words, the drink was made fizzy and less sweet, while the name was translated into English, the packaging was changed and the product was positioned as a premium brand. Red Bull’s launch, which in a way created a whole new category of energy drinks, is generally believed to be one of the greatest marketing success stories ever.


Red Bull’s brand strategy is an example of a positioning in which product features are translated into functional and emotional benefits. It centres around the idea of “vitalizing body and mind”[2] thanks to caffeine and taurine content, as reflected in the famous brand slogan: “Red Bull gives you wings”. Throughout its history, the Red Bull brand has educated consumers that the energy boost it promises to deliver can be used on a range of occasions: it can help improve physical and mental performance, fight fatigue or increase concentration, thus making it a drink for a wide audience, rather than a narrow niche.


Red Bull is also famous for its involvement in extreme sports. The number of initiatives, of which the brand is an organizer or a sponsor, is astounding: from events for professionals such as Red Bull Air Race[3], Red Bull Rampage (mountain bike competition) or Red Bull Snowscrapers (snowboard jumps), to the tournaments for amateurs, e.g., Red Soapbox Race[4] (a race, in which drivers use homemade, non-motorized vehicles) or Red Bull Flugtag (a flying contest, in which people use homemade “aircraft”). In addition, Red Bull is engaged in music and gaming, has its own radio, magazine (The Red Bulletin) and connected TV channel, and sponsors multiple extreme sports athletes.


Even though selling an FMCG product, the Red Bull brand has transformed itself into a media company. It’s one of the first brands that began to produce video content without any intention of broadcasting it on TV; rather, most of it is hosted on the brand’s own media platforms and YouTube channel[5]. Red Bull Media House[6] is a Red Bull subsidiary responsible for producing content, operating Red Bull’s media platforms and establishing partnerships with other businesses, which either want to use the brand’s content or advertise on its media platforms.


Although Red Bull is primarily associated with extreme sports, the brand also uses TV to build a more approachable image among mainstream audiences. Red Bull TV adverts have been based on the same creative format since the 1980s, which takes the form of humorous cartoons dramatizing the idea of “giving wings” (e.g., “Traffic Jam”[7] or “Chess”[8]).


Red Bull is an Explorer brand, which stands for an adventurous life full of new and intense experiences.

Most important campaigns

1. “BMX Riding Dubai’s Most Famous Landmarks” (2019)

2. “Chess” (2017)

3. “Traffic Jam” (2016)

4. “Danny MacAskill’s Imaginate” (2013)

5. “Felix Baumgartner’s Supersonic Freefall From 128k” (2012)


Official brand statement:

Red Bull Energy Drink Vitalizes Body and Mind.
Red Bull Energy Drink is a functional beverage providing wings whenever you need them.[9]

Interesting facts:

Red Bull GmbH, the brand’s owner, does not produce the energy drink; its Thai partner does. The main function of its Austrian headquarters is building up the brand image.[10]

Red Bull has set up a research foundation known as Wings for Life, whose main aim is to find ways to cure spinal cord injuries.


1. Campaign on the current situation of the Red bull brand
R. A. Hitchcock, “What Happened To Red Bull?”, Campaign, Feb 2019,

2. An in-depth article on Red Bull’s history and its key success factors
G. Gschwandtner, “The Powerful Sales Strategy Behind Red Bull”, Selling Power Magazine,

3. David Aaker explains Red Bull’s brand strategy
D. Aaker, “Red Bull: The Ultimate Brand Builder”, Prophet, May 2013,


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