If you saw Fast Company’s recent profile of the Top 10 Media Companies, you might have been shocked to find a brand at #2 on the list. Yet there is energy-drink titan Red Bull, behind only new media vanguard Twitter and ahead of old media master The New York Times. When Red Bull launched Red Bull Media House in 2007, they officially became a content publisher, not just a late-night enabler.
It’s no secret that more brands are focusing on content as a way to connect with consumers. For some, this simply means curation (think: the style blog on your favorite clothing retailer’s website). For many, creating custom branded content is the goal. For Red Bull however, content isn’t just a tactic, it’s a mission.
With a focus on action sports and racing that matches the interests of their target, Red Bull began their journey towards media ascendancy through sponsorship. Not just skateboarding and Formula 1 racing, but more obscure (extreme?) sports such as windsurfing and cliff diving. From sponsorship came major action sports events such as the infamous Red Bull Flugtag, a competition featuring homemade flying machines. With all this unique live content, it only made sense to capture it – hence, Red Bull TV, Red Bull Records, and the rest of the offerings that make up the Red Bull Media House (refresher: your number 2 most innovative media company in the world).
What’s the lesson for brands here? Of course it seems simple: produce content. But this is too dumbed down a missive to extract from Red Bull’s exceptional path. It starts with understanding your target and meeting them in the spaces where they seek entertainment (Red Bull’s action sports sponsorships). Once your brand messaging has infiltrated that space, it’s about providing a meaningful interaction between consumer and brand (Red Bull’s action events). From there, you can extend that interaction through long-tail content (Red Bull Media House). With a lot of smart thinking and a little luck, your brand too can grow wings and fly into the hallowed halls of Fast Company’s “Most Innovative” lists.