Now the most popular energy drink on the market, Red Bull enjoys over 80% of the energy drinks market in the UK and many other European countries, and nearly 50% of the US market, but just how did Red Bull do it?

Gaining such a huge market share is no easy thing to do, particularly when you consider a rival drink, Lucozade, has been a household name for well over 50 years.

Red Bull is the brainchild of Dietrich Mateschitz, a 64 year old billionaire Austrian entrepreneur who was struck by a Thai energy drink that immediately cured his jet lag. Mateschitz approached the manufacturers of the Thai drink, named Krating Daeng – Thai for Red Bull, and teamed up with TC Pharmaceutical to transform the energy drink for the European market. The result, the Red Bull drink we enjoy today, was first sold in Hungary in 1992 and then in the USA in 1997. The drink has since dominated the energy drinks market, and this is down to some pretty nifty advertising and some very creative ideas.

Red Bull interestingly gained notoriety by not trying to directly compete in the normal way most brands would attempt to gain exposure through means like TV advertising, but became popular in youth culture by creative and targeted brand awareness. This was achieved by employing students and DJs to host parties where the drink was sold and the craze quickly caught on; the drink quickly became a popular mixer with vodka and a drug-free way to enjoy partying late into the night without loss of energy.

Always at the forefront of youth culture, Red Bull is also actively involved in some of the most exciting sporting events, from the Red Bull Air Race to the Red Bull Street Style 2008, an event held to find the world’s best freestyle soccer players, with events taking part world wide, leading up to the final which takes place in Sao Paulo in Brazil in November.

With its rise in popularity, the company has also started to sponsor mainstream sports events like Formula One. But to keep the brand edgy and youthful, its sports promotion stays with exciting, dangerous or extreme sports – you can’t exactly see Red Bull sponsoring Wimbledon, can you?

Red Bull has also turned negative publicity about the brand – mostly centered round health fears over drinking too much of the highly-caffeinated drink – into a good thing. When France and Norway both announced a ban on the drink citing health risks, the saying that there is no such thing as bad publicity rang true, as the ban only served to boost the drink’s trendy ‘bad boy’ image among young consumers.

In focusing on exciting, dynamic event marketing and campaigns targeting consumers outside of the normal advertising model, Red Bull have created a worldwide brand that remains edgy, fresh and on the cutting edge.

Of course not every business has the startup marketing budget of a brand like Red Bull, but it’s often not that expensive to try a bit of non-traditional advertising.
You don’t have to spend loads of money on newspaper and magazine advertising to get your name about. Even with a fairly modest website, some clever SEO can really get its name out there and there’s other less technical ways to build brand awareness.