First introduced in Asia in the late 1960s, Red Bull began a small revolution in the global soft drinks market in the 1990s. Since its European launch in 1987, the sickly sweet stimulant has created a whole new niche of "energy drinks", forcing soft drinks giants Coke and Pepsi to play an undignified - and expensive - game of catch-up. Red Bull still has a staggering 43% share of the global energy drink market, according to researcher T4, though rival Monster - now part-owned and distributed worldwide by Coca-Cola - is catching up fast at 39%. Meanwhile, Red Bull itself now qualifies for megabrand status, with retail sales of over $20bn annually. Its principal manufacturer, privately owned Red Bull GmbH of Austria, sold more than 7.5bn cans of the product in 2019 in over 170 countries. (The Austrian company owns rights in all but a few countries, notably China and Thailand). Group revenues topped €6bn for the first time. that year. Sales have plateaued in some of the brand's original territories, but that has been offset by spectacular growth in emerging markets. The brand claimed increases of over 30% in both India and Brazil in 2019, and 25% in Africa. Why so successful? Because most countries' distribution systems are tied up with giants Coke and Pepsi, Red Bull entered each of its markets through independent distributors, targeting trendy bars and nightclubs as its first outlets. As a result Red Bull quickly built up a strong word-of-mouth following and acquired a reputation as something close to a legal drug. It has strengthened its appeal by sponsoring a range of extreme sporting events, the more extreme the better, ranging from mountain-biking and snowboarding to "flugtagging" in home-made high altitude motorised gliders or - in its most dramatic stunt to-date - skydiver Felix Baumgartner's 2012 freefall from the edge of space. Slightly less exotic pursuits include not one but two successful F1 motor-racing teams, a Major League Soccer team in the US, and the annual Red Bull Music Academy DJ conference and training session. Dietrich Mateschitz is chairman and owner, and Austria's richest individual with a $12bn fortune. He purchased international distribution rights to Thai energy drink Krating Daeng in 1987 and rolled it out globally as Red Bull.
Capsule checked 7th December 2020
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Who are the competitors of Red Bull? Red Bull's main branded competitors are Monster (now minority owned by Coke) and Rockstar (aligned with Pepsi). Coca-Cola's other energy brands include Full Throttle, Burn and NOS; Pepsi markets Amp and SoBe No Fear. In the UK, rival products include Lucozade Energy, now owned by Suntory. See Soft Drinks Sector for other companies and brands.
Historical profile information for Red Bull
Adbrands Weekly Update 26th May 2016: Red Bull agreed a long term alliance with ailing action-cam manufacturer GoPro. The Austrian energy drinks group acquired a small equity stake and will make GoPro its exclusive point-of-view device for all sponsored extreme sports events. GoPro badly needs the support - its stock has been trading at record lows, down more than 80% in the past year after its most recent release failed to meet sales expectations as a result of stiff competition from smartphones and a saturated market.
Adbrands Weekly Update 16th Oct 2014: Red Bull has been banned from using its long-established "gives you wings" slogan in the US, after a court agreed that the claim was misleading in a preliminary hearing. Two class action lawsuits had been brought against the company for deceptive and fraudulent marketing. Red Bull agreed to settle to avoid the distraction of a full-blown court case. It has agreed to set aside $13m in damages to reimburse any customer who purchased a can of Red Bull since 2002 with either $10 cash or two free cans. Tens of thousands of US consumers rushed to register their claims on Red Bull's dedicated site, crashing the system repeatedly.
Adbrands Weekly Update 19th Dec 2013: Red Bull's owner Dietrich Mateschitz is preparing to launch an international English language cable TV channel, according to German trade media. Mateschitz already controls web-based RedBull.tv, the German language cable channel ServusTV, and a growing library of media content. No further details have been disclosed, but the new launch is likely to carry coverage of the drinks company's many sponsored events, from extreme sports and mountaineering to its activities in US soccer and Formula1 racing.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th Nov 2013: Red Bull's Formula 1 motor-racing team added yet another world record to its cabinet at the Brazilian Grand Prix when lead driver Sebastien Vettel became the only man ever to win nine consecutive F1 Grand Prix in a single year. He matches Michael Schumacher with 13 wins over the whole season.
Adbrands Weekly Update 31st Oct 2013: Red Bull's celebrity in extreme or fast-paced sports now easily rivals its renown as a soft drink. The Red Bull Racing Formula 1 team notched up its 4th consecutive championship this week, and star driver Sebastien Vettel - still only 26 - became the youngest driver ever to collect four drivers' championships. Only three other drivers have managed that feat, and none of them under the age of 30.
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