7 Content Marketing Lessons From Red Bull Media House

One of the biggest content marketing questions I get on a regular basis is “who are the leading content marketing brands?

After American Express OPEN Forum, which claims to be the single largest source of leads, in the form of new card members for their small business group, I typically point to Red Bull who has taken the whole “brand as publisher” model to a whole new level.

What makes Red Bull different?

They have created a totally separate division of the company focused on making amazing content, Red Bull Media House, with the goal of becoming a profitable enterprise on its own.

The bold move gained a lot of attention. For example, last year Fast Company named Red Bull one of the “Most Innovative Companies” because of their efforts. And the brand is frequently cited by content marketers as the shining example of what it means to think and act like a media company.

Maybe nothing personifies this more than the quote “Red Bull is a media company that happens to sell energy drinksattributed to Red Bull’s Austrian founder Dietrich Mateschitz.

Some quick facts about Red Bull Media House:

  • Red Bull launched RedBull Media House in 2007.
  • They launched the online and print magazine The Red Bulletin, which now has a distribution of more than 5 million.
  • They spent $2 Million making a movie called The Art of Flight
  • Sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s famous freefall from space (video below).

Red Bull expects the Media House to start making a direct profit but already claims that the business value in the form of awareness and media dollars saved, far outweighs the expense.

Are you looking to help turn your brand into a media company? Here are 7 lessons you can learn from what Red Bull is doing:

7 Content Marketing Lessons From Red Bull Media House

  1. Marketing is more than a department. It’s a responsibility of the entire brand and every employee.
  2. Content is a “core mandate” of the business. So make sure your content is inspired and effective.
  3. Businesses need to take the concept of the brand as a media company literally.
  4. Content needs to support the core essence of why the brand exists. For Red Bull it is literally “to give you wings.”
  5. Become a global media empire covering all media segments. Video, mobile, online, print.
  6. The media may become profitable, but focus on creating brand value that offsets investments in paid advertising
  7. Make content that audiences can consume any way they like.

How about you? Are you ready to help your business take this leap?

I have predicted that more companies would start to follow Red Bull’s lead. There are now famous examples from Netflix (House of Cards) and Amazon (Alpha House) as well. But few brands have taken the bold step that Red Bull has.

What is getting in their way? I think it starts with a crisis of courage from marketing leaders. Some are still thinking (and marketing) like it’s 1999. But many know what they need to do.

I think for most it comes down to taking the leap! Put someone in charge. Give them the resources to get it done. And who knows, maybe your brand’s freefall can turn into a safe landing.

Now, let me know what you think?

Let me know what you think in the comments below. And please follow along on TwitterLinkedInFacebook and Google+ or Subscribe to the B2B Marketing Insider Blog for regular updates.

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Showing 8 comments
  • Atul Dhakappa
    Reply

    In the yesteryears a lot of companies created IT divisions to support their growth which were later converted to profit centers.
    I guess with focus on content publishing, what it is, it is very likely that more and more companies will create profit centers from their content publishing divisions.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Atul,

      I think it’s less about profit centers (operations) and more about strategic thinking and approach. The entire company creates content. Every person on the planet is now a publisher, more or less. This is really about the approach that comes from understanding how today’s world works. Content is the currency the drives our connections.

  • Rosaline Raj
    Reply

    Hi Michael – thank you for your insights. It takes a dream team to create experiential content like the freefall from space and Chipotle’s Farmed & Dangerous. That being said, I think there are two major factors that hold brands back from taking the leap. The first is lack of content accountability. It’s essential that a marketing leader and his/her team “own” the content strategy. Yet, there are many companies that are not ready to take this on – it is still a fairly new concept for some, many are very busy within their own roles and some may think creating content within their own departments (in silos) is enough. Which brings me to the second factor: perspective. A more holistic/integrated approach to communications may help teams better determine content ROI. Understanding that content is not a stand-alone but a part of the overall business strategy will help them create more strategic (and effective) content. When a company has its ducks in a row internally, content literally starts to flow. Now the core content team has an entire company to crowd source from for fun, creative, innovative ideas & campaigns. I know. It’s definitely easier said than done. Thanks for the opportunity to weigh in.

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Rosaline, I think you got it right. Put someone in charge and give them the resources they need to work across the silos. That is why I do not think it’s too important to look for someone with writing skills. (I need to write a post on that) but who truly has the passion to be a change agent and a coach and an evangelist inside the company and out.

  • Mike Lou
    Reply

    very true. If you just look on their website redbull.com it feels like a high quality magazine, which not only attracts the Redbull audience, but an audience typically advertisers and other brands would love to tap into. I would not wonder if they would allow other brands to advertise on their own ‘advertisment’…. And if you compare their traffic on alexa vs. coca-cola.com, they seem to win the battle on getting users to their site as well (which all brands are usually struggling)

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      I don’t think there’s any question that they are winning the battle for mindshare with the target audience they are trying to reach. The bigger question for me is “why aren’t more brands following their lead?”

  • Rodney Robinson
    Reply

    I love #4. Content is the core essence. this pivot made sense because what they sold as their brand was , “To Give You Wings.” For this reason, with the correct focus on content, they were already successful in becoming a media house and maintaining their core competency. So inspirational!

    • Michael Brenner
      Reply

      Thanks Rodney, because they stay focused on their core mission, content just becomes an extension.

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