How Red Bull Used Garbage Cans As A Marketing Strategy

How Red Bull Used Garbage Cans As A Marketing Strategy

Over the years, we’ve come to know Red Bull’s legendary marketing campaign with “drinking Red Bull gives you wings “

Red Bull has been famous for their notorious guerilla marketing tactics. In the early 80s, they were planning on launching Red Bull in London but they wanted to approach marketing  differently than they had before. Rather than using traditional marketing like TV, Radio, and billboards, Red Bull thought of something clever that can get Londoners excited about their drink. 

They decided to use GARBAGE CANS as their strategy to get the attention of the city. Red Bull strategically placed empty cans of its product around garbage cans outside of popular late night venues in London. They would leave these empty cans on tabletops at bars and clubs, and they would also leave it at several locations that catered to the demographic they were trying to reach. 

Today, Red Bull captures 25% of the energy drink market that equates to $2.89 billion dollars in annual sales. 

Red Bull identified a specific set of customers to go after that was not so obvious to go after. They could have stuck to their traditional customer archetype of the extreme athlete or even as of recently; marketing to stay at home moms who have a lot on the go. Instead they decided to go after clubbers. 

Looking back, this seems like an easy decision to make. We’ve become so used to seeing Red Bull at clubs because they have built so much market mindshare in that in the nightlife space where when you order a drink, your options always include a Red Bull. 

The logical choice for the Red Bull marketing team would have been to go after the coffee-drinkers. The individuals who want to boost their energy in the mornings or afternoons. The Red Bull marketing was savvier and found an overlooked consumer to solve a problem for. 

Placing cans outside of nightclubs in the 80s and 90s was a bold move by Red Bull. The brand was able to reap the benefits of seeing something others couldn’t at the time: energy drinks were the perfect mixer for nightclub enthusiasts wanting to keep their energy levels up late at night.

Red Bull understood it’s customers so well it knew exactly how to bring the product to them. The empty cans created social proof almost by default. If you’re at a nightclub and you see empty Red Bull cans everywhere, you’re probably thinking, “what is this stuff and why are so many people drinking it?”

Red Bull was smart at doing two things: identifying an underserved customer, and delivering their brand to that customer in a creative way.

Takeaway: This story is a great case study to understand how to market in a specific era. This strategy won't work today but having a pulse on the market and knowing where it’s going can keep you ahead of your competitors. Having a deep understanding of your market, consumer behaviour, and your target market can help you develop untested strategies that have great synergy with your target audience. It will help you think outside of the box and allow you to generate fresh ideas for your marketing strategies.
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