Company – RedBull
Founder – Mr. Dietrich Mateschitz
The brand Red Bull was founded by Mr. Dietrich Mateschitz, an Austrian businessman. The idea originated from Krating Daeng, a popular energy drink sold in Thailand by Mr. Chaleo Yoovidhya.
He and his family is the controlling owner of the parent company named Red Bull Gesellschaft Mit Beschränkter Haftung (GMBH – equivalent to a private limited company in Germany, Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria) which is responsible of the product’s worldwide sales and marketing. Red Bull is the holder of highest market share among all the energy drinks in the world with over 6.3 billion cans sold in 2017 alone.
How it all Started
The story of Red Bull began with the introduction of the “Krating Daeng” energy drink in Thailand by Mr. Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1976. The phrase means red ‘gaur’ (Indian Bison) named after the animal found in Thailand. Originally, the drink was popular among the working class like the truckers and laborers.
During 1982, Mr. Dietrich Mateschitz, then working for Blendax (a German manufacturer), came to Thailand to meet Mr. Chaleo, the entrepreneur who owned T. C. Pharmaceuticals. Mr. Mateschitz was amazed to sample the “Krating Daeng” energy drink and found that his jet lag was fading due to its effects.
Being a visionary businessman, he approached Yoovidhya with a business proposal to present his local energy drink to the markets in Europe and America. By investing half a million dollars each, Mr. Yoovidhya and Mr. Mateschitz co-founded Red Bull GMBH in 1984. Both of them owned 49% each of the company while remaining 2% was in the name of Mr. Yoovidhya’s son.
It was agreed that Mateschitz will be at the head of the newly-found company. In 1987, the newly-repackaged product was launched in Austria, Mr. Mateschitz’s home country, at its numerous ski resorts. The energy drink was repositioned as a premium product with a higher price band to suit the upscale consumer’s tastes.
The Road to Popularity
The blue and silver tall can packaging of Red Bull soon started gaining popularity among its consumers. The product contained taurine, caffeine, vitamins, simple sugars and added flavors the blend of which provides added energy. The person feels ebullient, active and energized, mainly due to the caffeine content.
While other health drinks were available beforehand, Red bull’s unique taste and elegant presentation appealed to the public. Coupled with its widespread and popular media advertising, it soon gained entry into international markets of Hungary and Slovenia in 1992.
The vast potential of the USA market was tapped in 1997 and the conservative Middle East was conquered at the start of the new millennium. While the Chinese market was supplied with Krating Daeng carrying the Red Bull logo since 1995, the international Austrian product entered there in 2014. Many other South East Asian countries also have both these products in their markets with different packaging, the international product in its easily-recognizable silver-gold while Krating Daeng comes in a smaller-sized gold can.
The distinctive flavor of Red Bull is still exclusively manufactured in Bangkok, the capital city of Thailand, and exported to other manufacturing units all over the world. In 2008, Mr. Chaleo and Mr. Mateschitz were listed the Forbes magazine as 250th among the richest people in the world with a net worth estimation of over 4 billion dollars.
The success of Red Bull can largely be attributed to its widely popular advertizing campaigns. Titled as “Red Bull gives you wings”, the tagline has almost become synonymous with the product itself. The commercials carrying this message are trendy, innovative and are successful in creating the required buzz among the viewers as well as amusing them.
Aside from the fun aspect, the caricature or cartoon-based commercials convey the message that Red Bull is really an energizing drink and thus have played their part in creating the success story of the brand.
Apart from widespread media advertizing, Red Bull has a long-running association with extreme and adventure sports. So, popular performing sportspersons from skateboarding, surfing, kayaking, mountain and BMX biking, snowboarding, rowing and other similar disciplines have been sponsored by the company.
Red Bull has sponsorship deals with NASCAR and Formula 1 car racing teams and even has its own team named Red Bull Racing for the Formula 1 Championships. World champion racer Sebastian Vettel was the driver of the cars produced by the company from the years 2010 to 2013.
Red Bull also won the World Constructor’s Championships of race cars for the same number of years. Football club teams from the countries of Austria, Brazil, United States and Germany are sponsored by the brand. RB Leipzig, a top-level German Bundesliga (football league) team, is owned by Red Bull GMBH. Similarly, FC Red Bull Salzburg of Austria and FC New York Red Bulls od USA are also sponsored by them. Also, many extreme sports teams are sponsored by the company to associate the brand with high-performing athletes which serves to further its product as a stimulating and performance-enhancing energy drink among the masses.
Also, personalities from the dance and music industry have been promoting the brand to reach a wider customer base. Rap singers like Eminem have endorsed the brand in the Emcee Battle Rap Championships.
Red Bull GMBH also sponsors the popular flying event all over the world, “Red Bull Flugtag (airshow in German)” wherein the competitors showcase their indigenously-made machines and entertain the crowd in the process.
The “Red Bull House of Art” is a fellowship program by the company to encourage talented artists and designers to create showpieces over a three-month long period and finally displaying them in an exhibition.
Red Bull has significant presence in the world of video games also. It has sponsorships deals with many professional gamers and teams playing popular multiplayer games like League of Legends and DOTA 2.
Thus, Red Bull GMBH is a classic success story of the “east meets west” kind. The energy drink from Thailand “Krating Daeng” catering to the largely local working class populace was promoted and turned into a world-leading brand of its category within three decades of its international launch through visionary western entrepreneurship.
With over twenty different variations of its world-famous energy drink tailor-made to cater its millions of consumers all over the world, Red Bull is set to dominate its category for the foreseeable future.