Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Red Bull's Questionable Marketing Techniques

Redbull energy drinks; probably one of the worst concoctions of chemicals to put in your body, in some cases resulting in death and in others as addictive as cigarettes. I wonder what their deal is with the acquired taste as I drink one for breakfast today and how it has influenced my life up to this point. James O’Brien who writes for The Content Strategist, an online magazine catered towards brand marketing and talent describes the process Redbull has achieved global fame through a concept “Content Marketing.” His is in fact, referring to a narrative technique of creating storytelling material to attract potential consumers. While the technique may distract the general public to what they are actually putting into the strange flavored, nearly lagar colored drink. Their marketing techniques have been widely successful because they do not divulge any of their strategies. This “Content Marketing,” however, is easily interpreted as a formula of their investments in creative projects and subliminal advertising.

As of writing, O'Brian claims Redbull provides nearly 50,000 videos and half-a-million photographs free of charge to their global audience. These videos contain ridiculous feats such as man skydiving from space breaking the world record and providing scientists with valuable data of how the human body can survive extremities with the proper equipment. Rebecca Lieb, an analyst for the Altimeter Group recently published a report detailing rational conclusions about the Rebull marketing strategy: “Nobody is going to go to a website and spend 45 minutes looking at video about a drink. But Red Bull has aligned its brand unequivocally and consistently with extreme sports and action. They are number-one at creating content so engaging that consumers will spend hours with it, or at least significant minutes."

Lieb hit the nail on the head. An interdisciplinary explanation of Red Bull's success as a content producer can be explained by Jerome Bruner’s article “The Narrative Constructive of Reality” that appeared in Critical Enquiry in 1991. Bruner’s article begins with the sentiment linking “man and his knowledge-gaining and knowledge using capabilities for culture;” this relates to the content that Red Bull produces for their “Content Marketing,” or storytelling material (3). They are crafting feats and challenges the average consumer of content and product would never be able to produce without the corporate backing of the Red Bull Corporation. These feats include ridiculous skateboard stunts, bike races down incredibly unsafe looking staircases in South American cities, or even full length snowboard videos where top professionals in their respective fields travel the world in a Red Bull helicopter to film the high quality content Redbull desires to keep the company running. They are are top “domain supported by cultural tool kits and distributional networks” (Bruner 3-4). How lucky was Bruner to not have to contemplate the reality of such a “cultural tool kit and distributional networks” such as the internet and word of mouth throughout the action sports community?

How do we even know this is real?

The thing is that the content of Red Bull's videos is they are not constructed within a relatable reality. They are athletes that have trained for years in their disciplines. The storytelling material that Red Bull produces is expensive to create, especially in the current economy and rising oil prices. However, selling a product that is cheaply produced and provides euphoria to the sugar addicted and caffeine craving society where most of the content is published has tremendous advantages. The caffeine produces an alertness that is understood by consumers just by watching the content of Red Bull's videos. Their appeal to younger kids looking up to alternative sport professionals by producing this content guarantees the next generation of consumers as soon as their let off their mother’s leash. The detrimental effects are rarely felt during alternative sports because the fitness compared to conventional team sports is completely different. I’m sure the free cases sent monthly to their paid professionals, such as New Hampshire’s prodigal snowboard son, Pat Moore, rest in a safe spot until the vodka comes out.

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