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Insider's Look at Red Bull U
Posted on February 6th 2009
This content is from The Marketing Fresh Peel
Red Bull is a fascinating brand. In less than a decade they were able to go from being a relatively obscure brand in a nonexistent category into a brand that's known and loved world-wide. What's really amazing about that feat is that they have largely discarded the traditional methods of mass marketing, which many think largely contributes to their mass appeal.
In the past, I've referred to some of my own experiences with the brand and how the creation of these experiences provide a means for Red Bull to always be moving and changing what and how they are interact with consumers, but still maintain a consistent image. Rob Walker, in his book Buying In, calls this Red Bull's projectability, or basically the way that they let consumers fill in the blanks about what their brand means.
Red Bull University is one of the many ways that Red Bull puts their brand into consumers hands to let them fill in the gaps. It's a 275+ national student network that are employed at university's across the country to build the Red Bull brand on campus. All of these “student brand managers” are passionate advocates for the brand, always pushing the limits of how they can bring Red Bull experiences to their campus.
I was able to get in touch with Sam Bennett, who is a Student Brand Manager for Red Bull at Loyola Marymount Univeristy and ask him a few questions about the program. Here's what Sam had to say:
So, what is Red Bull University?
Sam Bennett: Red Bull University is kind of like the online school of choice for our Student Brand Managers. Red Bull U is where we take classes. We study the things college students are into… share, and collaborate on how to give wiiings to any college student in need.
What does it take to become a student brand manager?
SB: It takes the right person to fit the position… to fit the brand… Some of us may not have a 4.0 in our academics, however we all have a 4.0 in life. We love our school and know our campus like the back of our hand. And I think we're also the kind of people who just aren't satisfied with the traditional path.
Are student brand managers provided any rules or guidelines for how they are to represent Red Bull?
SB: It is a topic of daily discussion at the Red Bull University. We are all accepted because our personalities match those of Red Bull, however we are all in it to learn more and broaden our horizons. We push the limits and sometimes take it too far… which you have to do sometimes to figure out what the limits even are.
What involvement do student brand managers have in popular Red Bull events, like FlÃ¼gtag, Crashed Ice, and the soapbox races?
SB: Student Brand Managers live for this stuff. But involvement in these sorts of national events is up to the individual. Some of us travel the country just to witness the experience only Red Bull can offer. If we are part of the local market where this event will be taking place, then some of us might look to help out the event by working in which ever way possible. But one thing that we all make sure to do is share the experience with as many students as we can no matter how much involvement we have. It's good stuff.
Can student brand managers start their own on campus Red Bull events? If so, what kind of support and resources do they receive from Red Bull to ensure that the event is a success?
SB: Yes. And we do it often. When it comes to these things, we don't just think outside the box… We think outside our minds. That sounds unusual… but really, our actions are only limited to our imagination, wit and understanding of the brand… However we are sworn to secrecy on our techniques for success.
How important are the grassroots efforts of Red Bull U brand managers to the continued success of Red Bull?
SB: Handing a friend a cold can of Red Bull is what we'd be doing even if we didn't have this job. We really just want all college students, including ourselves, to enjoy life… we want to make sure everyone gets through each year and says, “man… this year f***ing rocked.”
Along with the interview Sam and the team sent me some photos and links to videos showing Red Bull U in action.