Engaging consumers through word of mouth marketing
A Red Bull case study

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Page 3: Promotional approaches


There are several traditional approaches to promotion. Perhaps the best known is advertising. This is a key element of what is known as above-the-line promotion. This type of promotion usually delivers messages to a wide audience using the press, television, radio and the internet. Although this makes it easy to reach a large audience, it is more difficult to deliver a memorable message that is tailored to a specific target market. It can be costly: for example, television adverts at prime time are very expensive. In addition, businesses cannot completely control who sees or hears their adverts or how they respond. Red Bull’s above-the-line promotion primarily helps to increase top of mind brand awareness amongst consumers.


140810mc02Below-the-line promotions encompass all other forms of promotional activity. To reach targeted groups of consumers, Red Bull focuses heavily on developing inventive below-the-line promotions. Unlike many businesses, Red Bull does not use traditional sponsorship as a method of below-the-line promotion. Red Bull takes a different approach. It creates and organises its own events around the world. These events provide a platform for talented athletes to showcase their skills and ambition.

Sporting events include Red Bull X-Fighters and Red Bull Air Race, where the world’s top FMX riders and pilots respectively perform world class flips, turns and tricks in front of tens of thousands of spectators. These events help to establish the brand values. They also begin the AIDA process with the participants and audiences for these events, creating awareness and interest in Red Bull products.

Engaging with consumers

130709mc05A key aspect of Red Bull’s promotion is about creating genuine relationships with individual athletes, such as Robbie Maddison, who was able to achieve his lifelong ambition when he performed the first ever motorcycle back-flip over a raised Tower Bridge in London. Through supporting these athletes in pushing themselves beyond their limits, Red Bull is able to engage with consumers. Red Bull events provide experiences that excite, surprise and challenge participants and spectators.

For example, events in summer 2011 included Red Bull cliff-diving in the south of Italy and the Red Bull Flugtag event in Leeds. Red Bull Flugtag challenges brave and creative individuals to design, build and pilot their own home-made flying machines off a 30ft-high flight deck. Almost 100 Red Bull Flugtag events have been held around the globe. Teams are judged on the distance flown, as well as the creativity and originality of their flight machine idea. They also win points for their performance during their pre-flight speech to the thousands of spectators.

Developing the brand

Events like these support the brand ethos and contribute to the Red Bull experience. They are based on a belief that mass awareness can be achieved without requiring big budgets. In fact, the large-scale activities, such as the Formula 1 team that is owned by Red Bull, are not the cornerstone of its promotional strategy. These activities are focused on building talent and pushing the sport to new levels through innovation. However, the emphasis is on local activities that can have a big impact and create interesting media coverage. These have the advantage that the company can quickly and inexpensively change anything that is not working. It can repeat or develop ideas that work and seem to have good public appeal. The programme is managed through an annual activity plan, which is based on a three-year overview of promotional work.

Red Bull | Engaging consumers through word of mouth marketing