Bull Market: Red Bull is King of Content Marketing

There probably isn’t a brand that’s had more success with content marketing than energy drink-maker Red Bull. In fact, it was ranked #1 in Digital IQ Score in the category of brand performance by L2 Think Tank (read more from Ranking The Brands and Popsop), ahead of heavyweights like Bud Light, Coca-Cola and Budweiser.

A company with a name that has become synonymous with far more than the product it manufactures, Red Bull is a major sponsor of many adrenaline pumping alternative sports and extreme endeavors. It also provides the media outlets through which these events are covered. It was a risky double down at the time—counting on the success of not only their ability to create the action but deliver it in a way that resonates. But the risk has been well rewarded.

What do you think of when you think of Red Bull?

We can heard your gears turning. Outside of 20-something frat bros who would immediately say, “Jäegermeister,” it’s probably not the Red Bull drink itself. That’s because the brand has legitimately made itself something else. Red Bull is mountain and dirt biking; Red Bull is extreme skiing and snowboarding; Red Bull is world soccer superstar Neymar co-piloting a rally car; and Red Bull is Felix Baumgartner jumping out of a balloon at a then record-setting 128,100 feet and reaching supersonic speeds on his freefall back to earth. And Red Bull is even more than that.

The point is, Red Bull has reached the holy apotheosis of content marketing—where brand goes beyond product, and consumer perception goes beyond purchase. As you see in the example above, Red Bull is a YouTube channel, a racecar, a spacesuit and a parachute. And in doing so, it’s also energy, action, excitement and, where the rubber meets the content marketing road, adrenaline filled engagement.

Real media house, authentic content

It’s no accident that Red Bull’s content is as successful as it is. The company has gone much farther than almost any other brand out there to create it. Red Bull isn’t just its own agency, it’s also its own publisher. Red Bull Media House is a living, breathing publishing subsidiary whose sole purpose is to crank out killer content that has made Red Bull one of the most recognizable brands on the planet, despite its origins as an Austrian toothpaste and detergent marketer’s joint venture with a Thai energy drink maker.

The Red Bulletin is Red Bull Media House’s flagship publication. At redbulletin.com, you’ll find more than just the company’s signature take on sports. There are also articles on movies, interviews with musicians and pieces on style and culture. Besides the well crafted website design and excellent content, what may be most surprising is what you don’t see: any mention of the actual Red Bull energy drink. That’s a telling sign of how well Red Bull does content.

Another is The Red Bulletin, the monthly printed magazine. It’s full of the same kind of in-depth coverage of sports, culture and celebrities that you find on the website. In an age where reputable news magazines such as Newsweek struggle to stay in print circulation, it’s yet another telling sign of how well Red Bull does content. The magazine appears on newsstands for $4.99 an issue and goes for a $12 yearly subscription. The writing is on par with any other magazine out there and the glossy, action photography is world class as well.

Grabbing the bull by the horns

Red Bull is in a league of its own when it comes to content marketing, no doubt. Although it’s certainly not the way most companies would (or should) seek to utilize content marketing to heighten their brand’s appeal and awareness, it’s a shining example of how a bold, creative plan executed with confidence and style can pay massive dividends.

What Red Bull campaigns have captured your attention? Share your favorite adrenaline moment from the brand in the comments below.

By Zack Hill

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