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In one of Red Bull’s most famous marketing stunts, the company went literally global: Felix Baumgartner (purposefully) fell to Earth from 127,852 feet up, the highest height ever achieved by a human. The Red Bull Stratos project achieved a variety of scientific breakthroughs, and it also produced a remarkable video, taken from the camera mounted on Baumgartner’s helmet, that features vast, picturesque views of Earth—a view that likely appeals to every consumer living on the planet.

This global view matches both the history and the future goals of the firm. Although its founder Dietrich Mateschitz hails from Austria, the initial idea for Red Bull’s signature energy drink is a Thai beverage that helped truckers and construction workers stay awake during long shifts. The version that Mateschitz tried, in an effort to combat his jet lag, featured taurine and caffeine, with an extremely sweet palette. In transforming the recipe for a global audience, especially consumers in industrialized and Western settings, the company cut back on some of the sweetness and added in various B vitamins.

Early marketing efforts also sought to position Red Bull as an accessible performance enhancer for everyone, from truckers to stock traders, that would enable them to perform at their peak. Furthermore, Red Bull maintained consistent imagery. For example, the logo and color scheme for all packaging, along with its taglines and motto (i.e., “Red Bull gives you wings”) remains the same everywhere in the world.

Its global designs also are evident in its sponsorships. Its competitive racing teams appeared on tracks in Abu Dhabi, Sao Paulo, Singapore, Monaco, and Mexico City (among others) during a recent racing season. Its name headlines diverse music festivals throughout the United States, Spain, the Netherlands, and so on. And among the individual athletes it sponsors, virtually every geographic region in the world is sponsored, across a range of sports and hobbies too vast that it would be impossible to list them all here.

Following these marketing communications efforts to reach consumers throughout the world, Red Bull strategically designs distribution plans to ensure those consumers can obtain its products. For example, to expand its reach in Mexico, Red Bull established a distribution partnership with Keurig Dr Pepper, which already had established a vast network that facilitates deliveries of packaged beverages throughout the nation. From stratospheric events to local deliveries, Red Bull thus takes a truly global approach, enabling it to achieve its status as the top selling energy drink in the world.

Discussion Questions

  1. How do diverse international sponsorships support Red Bull’s global sales?
  2. Why did Red Bull change its beverage formulation for a more global audience? Can you think of other products that may benefit from a similar strategy?

Sources: Red Bull Stratos, “Scientific Data Review,” http://www.redbullstratos.com; SocialBakers, “Red Bull Stratos on Social Media,” http://www.socialbakers.com; Business Strategy Hub, “Red Bull Mission Statement,” https://bstrategyhub.com/red-bull-mission-statement-vision-core-values-analysis/; Bernadine Racoma, “How Red Bull Adapts to Different Markets,” Day Translations, February 14, 2019. Red Bull, “Events,” https://www.redbull.com/us-en/events