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Thirty-fourth place - Red Bull: the Anti-Brand Brand
The case
Case: Red Bull: the Anti-Brand Brand Red Bull: the Anti-Brand Brand
Authors: Nirmalya Kumar, Nader Tavassoli, and Sophie Linguri Coughlan
Institution: London Business School
Ref: 505-098-1
Date published: 2005

Founded in Austria in 1984, Red Bull was credited with creating the concept of energy drinks. By 2004, the worldwide energy drinks market was worth 2.5 billion euros and Red Bull commanded a 70% market share. Central to Red Bull's success was the use of word-of-mouth or 'buzz' marketing. Through its sponsorship of youth culture and extreme sports events, it developed a cult following among young people who perceived it as an anti-brand.

By playing on associations with energy, danger and youth culture, Red Bull carefully cultivated its mystique, which earned the drink nicknames such as 'liquid cocaine'.

But Red Bull needed to decide whether it was outgrowing its anti-establishment status. As a mature brand, had the time come to move to a more traditional marketing approach? And might this fundamentally destroy Red Bull's powerful anti-brand appeal?

The authors

Nirmalya Kumar works for Tata where he is responsible for strategy at group level. He is also Professor of Marketing and Co-Director of the Aditya Birla India Centre at London Business School. He is one of the world’s leading thinkers on strategy and marketing and has taught at Harvard Business School, IMD, and Kellogg School of Management.

Nader Tavassoli  is a Professor of Marketing at London Business School.

Sophie Linguri Coughlan is now Programme Manager, Executive MBA, at IMD.

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