It’s not often you meet someone who lives and breathes a brand. James Quinlan ‘Q’ is that person. He is the posterboy of the Red Bull tribe, the brand is his life. not in a geeky way, in a very cool way. I asked him to write a piece for me on why he loves Red Bull and how they get youth marketing
Red Bull sells a liiiiifestyle…by QI’m writing this rather late at night. I’m quite awake after drinking a can of what’s been called everything from “liquid speed” to “Viagra in a can”. It’s a good thing as I’m watching the F1 from Spain, supporting my team Red Bull Racing (and keeping an eye on Scuderia Toro Rosso). I’m wearing a Red Bull t-shirt and belt. I’m also keeping an eye on the San Diego leg of the Red Bull Air Race via the Internet and watched some of last year’s series earlier today on Fuel TV. Today’s paper was full of news about the Red Bull Cliff Diving Event in La Rochelle. The current copy of The Red Bulletin magazine sits on the table. Next to my Red Bull ice bucket.
I didn’t even used to like the taste of Red Bull – so how did I get here?
It’s because while V may “get things started” (as the ads reliably inform me, but only when they’re on air) Red Bull does the entire job from go to whoa (or maybe that’s whoooooaa!). Most brands spend loads of time looking for something in their product that they can sell to us. Sugar free. Less CO2. 24 hour protection. All very interesting, but rarely unique (and even if they are, easily replicated). The reasons why I’m a Red Bull devotee has buggerall to do with the product and everything to do with something that’s extremely hard to copy: the brand. Here’s five reasons why:
1. They sell lots of swag.
I’m constantly amazed by companies that stick to selling their products and nothing else. You can’t bring a car into your living room. Or take it with you on the train. Or to a meeting room at work. You can bring/wear a piece of merchandise everywhere you go. Clients look to their advertising agencies for communications, not frozen water receptacle device producers – but the Red Bull ice bucket that sits on my desk has done loads more to promote Red Bull to me and those around me than 99% of the TV commercials that we see because it doesn’t just make the brand famous, it’s infiltrated my life, every single day of the year (and I even paid for it). Note to marketers – Red Bull even manages to make money out of its swag – how’s that for “measurable communications”?
2. They‘re consistent.
Blindingly so. Which is quite odd when you consider that the world of Red Bull involves everything from BASE jumpers to F1 to classic aircraft to hip-hop music to visual artists. All of these activities need energy – for both the body and mind. Forget making sure that all the artwork looks like it came from the same place and instead remember what you’re actually about.
3. They’re not screwed when the media budget runs out.
Red Bull buys media last. It’s been ages since I’ve seen one of their ads on TV and certainly more than a year since I’ve seen any outdoor advertising for them (and even that was used to promote one of their events). Red Bull does the complete reverse of what anyone else does and create demand before they advertise. Product sampling. Cooler fridges in bars. Events. Only when the market begins to mature – and the brand is welcome – do they do “advertising”.
4. They’re cool
When was the last time anyone proudly ordered a Vodka and Mother at their local bar? Probably around the same time anyone who drank a Mother actually paid for it.
5. They involve us.
They don’t interrupt us, infact we seek them out. And I’m not talking about any of that “you make the ad and we’ll give you a cold $20K” malarkey either. All that that rubbish does is to put really crappy work infront of a large audience (at great cost) – making a brand seem really downmarket. Last year a very large chunk of Sydney went to Red Bull Flugtag. And loads of people went to the Red Bull Air Race in Perth. The other month I went to the No Comply exhibition at Red Bull Australia’s HQ. And what an HQ. It got me thinking about the last time that Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble or Cadbury-Schweppes hosted something at their office for the people who buy their product was…never.
Is this all working? In a world where the bottom line is, well, the bottom line they’re charging loads (compare their price to an icy cold can of Coke next time you’re instore) and selling even more, something they can do because instead of focusing on selling a product, they sell an entire liiifstyle.