When Red Bull came to us it was failing. Losing money and losing the supermarket distribution it had overpaid to open. The situation was so serious that they were having to split a case of 24 cans in half to achieve any sales at all in cash and carries. WW analysed the problem, investigated the product in depth, and re-strategised the whole operation.WW analysed the problems then created and defined the Stimulation strategy, which differentiated Red Bull from other energy drinks, and has delivered value brand leadership ahead of Lucozade. WW’s approach involved in-depth interrogation to understand the functional nature of the product, the combination of ingredients, the company, and to understand why and how it had succeeded elsewhere.
The key to success was in the definition of a winning proposition, and how to communicate that effectively. The approach was multifaceted, but centred around Red Bull’s benefit of dispelling tiredness. Target audiences for whom this was important were proposed, and marketing was focussed exclusively on the ‘moment of need’. We defined this as the time when you might be flagging and in need of a boost – at the garage forecourt, in a night club, at work, when facing a deadline, and playing sport.
Students were a specific target audience, so as part of the communication programme we looked to integrate Red Bull into youth culture. To achieve this WW created the UK’s first student brand manager programme. Branded Minis were used as highly distinctive sampling vehicles to take the product to the consumer at the all important ‘moment of need’. WW helped initiate Red Bull’s signature sports and events programmes. These focussed around the brands core concept of ‘Gives You Wings’ at the extreme edge of sports.But the biggest hurdle to Red Bull’s success actually came from the resistance in the retail trade to its high price. WW created the communication that persuaded them to stock and to have confidence they could sell at 3-4 times the price of Coke, and double that of Lucozade. Discounting was not an option, and that required the engineering of marketing that created consumer pull at its high price.
This was how Red Bull was established. This strategy helped deliver over £450m in net profit, and funded Red Bull’s entire international expansion. Red Bull has become one of the major marketing stories in the last two decades. That success has been the result of careful innovative thought with original entrepreneurial and mould breaking marketing.