With memorable moves like sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s jump from outer space in 2012 to achieve the world’s farthest ever-parachute drop, Red Bull has been a pioneering force in branded entertainment.
While known best for its line of energy drinks, the beverage maker has eschewed traditional marketing for content that blurred the boundaries between advertising and programming. But that didn’t mean Gerrit Meier could simply keep doing business as Red Bull Media Network always had when he joined as CEO of the division two years ago.
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“What has changed is there a lot more brands out here who are following the same path,” said Meier on the latest episode of the Variety podcast “Strictly Business.” “What we’re seeing now is we’re not alone in a space that probably 20-30 years ago we still had a much much stronger voice in. So what is important is that we maintain the relevance that we built.”
Meier recounts the many ways the brand has evolved its media strategy in the action sports space and beyond. The company is even venturing as far afield as mind-control games, which are intended to the help the hundreds of athletes with ties to Red Bull improve their mental acuity.
Red Bull isn’t entirely focused on branded entertainment, however. After getting traction on the festival circuit in recent years with documentaries, Meier disclosed he is know exploring his options in scripted entertainment as well–a first for Red Bull. Asked to describe the kind of content he’d be looking to script, he said certain stories Red Bull has come across on the documentary side, where the company will continue to develop projects, have broader commercial potential.
“For us, anything that’s aspirational, anything that lifts your heart, lifts yours spirits,” said Meier. “I think there are stories that we can get ourselves behind that are extremely in the spirit of what we believe as Red Bull.”
“Strictly Business” is Variety‘s weekly podcast featuring conversations with industry leaders about the business of entertainment. Listen to the podcast below for the full interview, or check out previous “Strictly Business” episodes featuring Discovery CEO David Zaslav, ICM Partners agent Esther Newberg, and HBO chairman/CEO Richard Plepler. A new episode debuts each Tuesday and can be downloaded on iTunes, Spotify, Google Play, Stitcher, and SoundCloud.