Somewhere on the way to becoming the leading energy drink, Red Bull also became a worldwide media and marketing force.
It sponsors extreme sports like snowboarding, BASE jumping, and mountain climbing. It hosts events and contests, and promotes itself through celebrities and videogames. And on May 10, it’ll add a glossy magazine in the U.S.
The Red Bulletin—which is also published in seven other countries—portrays the world as Red Bull sees it: one where thrill seekers perform crazy feats, fueled by a caffeine-and taurine-filled cocktail in a skinny silver can.
“We’re going to be doing stories that definitely present boundary-breaking approaches to life,” says Andreas Tzortzis, the U.S. editor. The Red Bulletin will be sold at newsstands for $4.99 a copy. To promote awareness, it’ll be inserted in the Sunday editions of the New York Daily News, Los Angeles Times, Miami Herald, and other newspapers.
Branded content has become one of the biggest marketing trends, and at its basic level, The Red Bulletin is about selling more cans of its eponymous energy drink (its tagline: “An almost independent monthly magazine”). To that end, the logo appears in page after page of stories about Red Bull-sponsored sports and in photos of the athletes.
But The Red Bulletin insists it’s a bona fide magazine on the level of an Outside or a National Geographic, which appeals to more than just 18-to-24-year-old guys.
“We don’t just cover skateboarding and wakeboarding,” associate publisher Raymond Roker says. “When we talk about exploration, foreign travel, culinary arts, travel, we’re getting into areas that are for folks easily in their 20s, 30s, 40s.” But has advertising become so ubiquitous that consumers consider a Red Bull-backed magazine on the same level as, say, Nat Geo?
“The perception is that there is content and there’s advertising,” Roker adds. “We’re challenging that perception that the media industry is still holding on to. The audience grows up and understands their athlete has brand logo stickers all over the board and the helmet, and that’s OK. If the end result is a good piece of content, parsing where it comes from is missing the point.”