Red Bull gives you wings

The second part into my study of how Red Bull have become a successful lifestyle brand. In this part I’ll look into their famous advertising slogan “Red Bull gives you wings”. We’ll review the campaign from when it started, to the present day, it’s successes and how it has been perceived and accepted over the years.


By no means do Red Bull literally mean that their energy drink will give you wings (though I should hope this is self explanatory). The meaning behind the famous slogan is much more metaphorical.

Red Bull is an adaptation from the Thailand tonic drink Krating Daeng. Over the years, co-founder Dietrich Mateschitz, spent his time researching new ingredients and adapting the flavour of the drink to suit the Western palate, ready to sell to the mass market. As well as tasting nice, it was vital the drink still gave a strong energy kick, as it originally did. To do so, the two main ingredients chosen were caffeine and taurine (latin for Taurus – translating to ‘bull’ in English).

We all know caffeine directly relates to an energy surge when consumed, but what about taurine? Taurine is an organic acid, mainly found in the large intestine – counting as 0.1% of the total human body weight – though it is also located in animal bile. It is made up highly of antioxidants meaning it’s great for cardio and improving athletic ability. These two ingredients combined means it gives the consumer a strong burst of energy and acts as a great pick me up. In fact Red Bull lists the following as the outcomes of taking their drink:

  • Increases physical endurance
  • Improves reaction speed and concentration
  • Increases mental alertness
  • Increases the over all feeling of well being
  • Stimulates metabolism and increases stamina

The above all get summarised brilliantly into Red Bull’s famous ad slogan – “Red Bull gives you wings” – it gives you the energy and the boost you need to tackle anything.

Target audience

The meaning behind their famous slogan is all well and good, but what’s the point if no-one’s going to buy into it? Who’s their target audience?

Well this is where I think Red Bull’s clever marketing and brand positioning all began. Red Bull was originally targeted for those who were working long hours, studying into the early hours or going for long drives. One consumer in particular of the beloved brand stated: “It’s quite a buzz. However, it’s not that ‘I’ve-overdone-it-on-coffee’ headache buzz, but an ‘I-feel-better-than-James-Brown’ flow, that has all my mental and physical parts chiming together. For once, the advertising claims live up to my expectations. Red Bull does give me wings!”

Despite the popularity among the hard-working, Red Bull soon realised that actually there wasn’t a specific demographic that loved their product, but instead, a whole lifestyle. Working long hours may be compulsory for some (i.e. better pay), whilst others choose to do it because they thrive on it. Whichever category people fall into, if they work long and late hours, it is still a lifestyle choice. Red Bull had the beginnings of a successful brand positioning here, which overtime evolved into other areas and markets – and Red Bull ran with it.

Red Bull’s target group is not determined by a demographic, but by a state of mind. Red Bull consumers have drive, are active and are dynamic. They want to be physically and mentally fit and wide awake.

Staying true to their brand positioning

So we’ve covered that the meaning of “Red Bull gives you wings” is that it creates images of positivity and confidence in the consumer, as though they have the energy and the ability to do whatever they want. They’re not constrained or restricted, it’s as if they’ve been given wings to set off and complete their tasks / challenges ahead.

However, as briefly mentioned above, Red Bull soon realised that the “all nighters” they were targeting fitted into a lifestyle choice and that actually rather than targeting by age and location, they should be targeting via lifestyle; by those who needed a burst of energy to make up for their energy demanding activities.

With this targeting in mind, it naturally evolved from targeting those who needed energy to complete their nightly office based duties, to those who needed quick release energy to complete their adrenaline filled, energy demanding activities, such as fast paced sports. This positioning has worked incredibly well for Red Bull, as this study will cover further as time goes on. However, it also meant that Red Bull didn’t have to change their iconic one-liner, “Red Bull gives you wings”. The slogan carries the exact same properties and connotations to the new positioning as it did when Red Bull were targeting blue collar workers. When a consumer needs a burst of energy to get them through their training, race or match, they know they can rely on Red Bull to give them the ability to push on through.

More on Red Bull’s target market and brand positioning will be discussed in more detail as this study goes on.

Red Bull gives you wings image from here.