When it comes to premium content and entertainment masked as marketing, Red Bull is arguably the brand that all of their peers want to be.
Through Red Bull Media House, the Austrian energy drink maker’s multi-platform media company that focuses on sports, culture and lifestyle globally, they’ve been at the mountain summit and planted a longstanding flag in the content and storytelling space that rivals the likes of traditional media companies.
The privately held company’s modus operandi proves a seriously cultivating notion for many brands that double as storytellers—anyone can be in the entertainment business today as a content marketer.
The scintillating action experiences they share, though, rivals no one. The jaw-dropping moments they capture in mountains, oceans and the wilderness complements their brand ethos—anything is possible with a pull of Red Bull. Images of the famous can, however, are almost always nowhere to be found.
Whether putting on concerts with Red Bull Sound Select, launching their own virtual reality platform, using drones to film shots for their live TV broadcast, procuring partnerships with Shutterstock and Reuters to align ideas editorially, or diversifying into non-sports movies, Red Bull has transformed itself from a sugary substance on the streets to an innovative and indomitable consumer brand-as-media powerhouse bringing serious content heat.
Lukas Cudrigh, senior vice president of digital at Red Bull Media House, joined [a]listdaily to detail how their standalone content arm has turned into a maxim for going well beyond a paid, interruption-based advertising model.
What is the message behind the Red Bull Media House? How are you using it to connect with consumers?
The story is at the heart of everything we do. The Red Bull brand is interdependent with experiences. Every story we do must reflect our brand value and brand principle. We want to bring inspiring stories to people who enjoy our content experiences and get them out there to a global audience. It’s a super exciting era right now. Everything is in motion. We are evidence that anyone can be in entertainment today. Technology has completely liberated us as traditional content producers, marketers and producers. The days of just a few media companies owning it all are long gone. Now anyone can create in the platform of the moment. We are constantly experimenting with new production tools, and new formats—but with one rule: does it advance the story and really make it better? When Red Bull becomes a traditional media player and content creator, where does this leave our audience? For us, the brand is the beacon. The best brands are instantly notable, accountable and credible. And they have a very clear message in knowing what the brand stands for. If we create these augmented experiences, then that becomes a relationship with our audience. When we hear from our audience that they want to get off the couch to go snowboarding or mountain biking after consuming our content—that’s the holy grail for us.
What is a new area of interest for the Red Bull Media house this year?
We are a full-fledged media house. We don’t need to be everywhere—but we need to be anywhere our audience is at any given time. So we need to make a pretty significant investment in building a network of consumer touchpoints, content management systems and analytic services to reach the audience with the experience they expect from us. There needs to be an agnostic approach in how we manage these platforms so that we are able to react when new ones come along. And when it works, you can really create global moments. Our heritage is in action sports and motor sports, and now, we’re branching out a bit to areas like music. ESports is an exciting dynamic. A project we’ve been focused on very much is Red Bull TV. With TV, we feel like we can reinvent the TV experience. When cable was introduced 30 years ago with HBO, MTV and CNN, they really led that innovation. Hopefully, we can be a part of that on the digital TV front. You have to know your audience, where they are and what gets them excited in order for you to become a part of their world. If you do that in new and unexpected ways, the stories become collective.
Why is eSports an attractive space for you? What kind of ownership are you trying to achieve as a non-endemic brand?
First of all, there is always a misconception that we are considered a sponsor. Look at our sports ventures. Red Bull Crashed Ice is a sport we created, own and produce. It’s our team. Just like we own our Formula 1 team. With eSports, you have athletes. There’s going to be a lot that happens with how these athletes will perform as the stakes get higher. We used to go to traditional event venues and produce it like a music show. There’s a lot of innovation as to how you produce eSports events. The same on the broadcast side. How do you actually create a media experience where you have the opportunities in an inherently digital sport with people from all over the world playing a tournament virtually? How do you make this a media experience? We see it as a lot of innovation opportunities for us to create a lot of awesome experiences. That’s our play. It’s a great opportunity to redefine television and help bring eSports along and develop it similar to when we went into action sports 30 years ago. It wasn’t as mainstream as it is right now. It’s the same with eSports.
What kind of content resonates most with the Red Bull consumer?
We give wings to people and ideas with the unexpected and surprising. We take this concept of working with talented artists and athletes with unthinkable ideas that do incredible things and want to push the boundaries. We give them the platform to actually do it. The stories create themselves. If the stories stay true to these attributes, the audience expects it. Red Bull Stratos, Danny MacAskill or our Formula 1 car that was driven on snow is a premiere example of this for experiences that are completely out of the ordinary, yet, they are completely expected from Red Bull. The stories that stick most and inspire our audience are the mind-boggling ones that are beyond ordinary and never been seen before.
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