September 11-15, 2017

Reaching New Heights

While I was researching and writing this month’s cover story on energy drinks, it occurred to me that there are few other consumer products that have been as creative, even ingenious, in their use of marketing.

Energy drinks didn’t get to be where they are today—one of the fastest growing, most vibrant beverage categories—just by fulfilling a need state, though that has certainly been a very important key to their success. After all, many consumers today, in all types of demographic groups, have come to rely on their daily energy drink for that extra bit of mental alertness and energy each day. To many of them, a cup of coffee is sort of their grandfather’s drink.

But a big part of the reason they feel that way is because of the category’s superb marketing. Energy drink companies have created excitement around their products that is unmatched by other beverages, and most other consumer products. Sure, other beverage companies like Coke and Pepsi are known as marketing powerhouses. There are few companies that can compete with them. But some of the smaller energy drink companies have taken marketing to a whole new stratosphere—literally.

For example, you must have been asleep under a rock this past October if you didn’t at least see some mention of the Red Bull Stratos project. Felix Baumgartner, sponsored by Red Bull, broke the world record for the highest and fastest jump in history—an incredible 24 miles. First, he rode in a space capsule attached to a 850,000 cubic meter helium balloon to a record-breaking altitude of 36,576 meters (120,000 feet). On his way down he broke the sound barrier at speeds near 1,110 km/h (If you haven’t seen the footage, it’s available on YouTube.) Red Bull financed the project and its logo was plainly visible for all to see on uniforms and the space capsule itself.

What a marketing coup for Red Bull! The company always has made this type of breathtaking, daredevil marketing a central part of its brand identity and that has been part of its genius—and its success. And now, thanks to Baumgartner’s jump, it is part of history as well.

Yes, even Coke and Pepsi can probably learn a thing or two about marketing from some of the energy drink companies. It’s one beverage category that continues to push new boundaries in CPG marketing.

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