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Red Bull: The anti-brand brand

By Nader Tavassoli, Nirmalya Kumar, Sophie Linguri


In 2004, Red Bull found itself at a crossroad, challenged with defending its 70% worldwide market share of the €2.5 billion energy drinks category that it had pioneered. Through a combination of buzz marketing tactics, decentralised distribution and sponsorship of extreme sports and pop culture events, Red Bull had managed to build a certain mystique, which was central to building its appeal among its targeted customers, 18-35-year-olds.

The category of energy drinks was maturing in some markets and there was an onslaught of competitor brands; some promoted by beverage industry giants such as Coca-Cola and Pepsi, and others private labels launched by mass retailers such as Asda (part of Wal-Mart). Red Bull had to make the strategic decision whether to actively target the mainstream and decide to what degree its growth could be supported by a narrow product line. Its choice of strategic options needs to consider its resources and capabilities and will potentially result in a fundamentally different marketing mix. Red Bull also had to consider the impact of its choices on its anti-brand mystique.

Learning objectives

  1. The case is appropriate for undergraduate, MBA and executive-level courses on marketing, and for courses on advertising and marketing communications, brand management, and strategy.
  2. The case explores buzz marketing and other non-traditional marketing techniques, as well as some of the challenges associated with brand extensions, such as preserving brand integrity and managing product/brand lifecycle.
  3. The case can be used to focus on (1) brand essence and segmentation/targeting; (2) non-traditional communications; (3) integrated marketing communications; and (4) product/brand lifecycle.


Publication Date: September 2005
LBS Case Code: CS-04-006
Subjects: , ,
Industry: ,
Geography: ,
Pages: 11
Format: pdf