Red Bull's unconventional marketing efforts single-handedly turned a foul-tasting energy drink into a huge global business, created an entirely new category of beverage (the foul-tasting energy drink) and earned the company a place in the marketing halls of fame as a "miracle brand." So writes Alex Wipperfürth in his recent book Brand Hijack, a good read peppered with useful insights into grassroots-marketing campaigns.
Styled after energy drinks popular in Asia, Red Bull contains synthetic Taurine, an acidic chemical found in Ox bile (hence the name) that supposedly enhances the effects of caffeine, though there's been no studies to confirm this.
Because of Taurine, Red Bull had to be approved by the food-and-drug authorities in each country where it was sold. Launched initially in Austria, the drink endured a five-year approval period before it was accepted into Germany. While frustrating, the wait proved to be a huge marketing boon: Red Bull was subject to myriad rumors about its ingredients and legality -- was it "speed in a can," an over-the-counter Viagra? Was Taurine extracted from bull's testicles?