The Publicist:

Red Bull receives huge boost from energetic PR campaign

Red Bull receives huge boost from energetic PR campaign

Ah, Austria...land of the Alps, good beer, efficient trains, and the biggest marketing and PR coup of the past five years.

I'm referring to a product campaign that has convinced everyone they are useless without it. It's called Red Bull.

Its success makes sense. We're a caffeine-driven society. We need it. We crave it. We demand it. More, more, more. We drink so much caffeine we can't sleep. The next morning we're tired and therefore...drink more caffeine. What an ingenious cycle of consumption.

Of course, Americans were perfectly content to get their caffeine fix through coffee, tea, or cola until an Austrian dude named Dietrich Mateschitz decided what we really needed was a hyper-delivery system - a super-collider of drug meets beverage. He discovered a concoction called Red Bull in Asia, bought the Western Hemisphere licensing rights, and devised a brilliant PR campaign that has made it the beverage of choice for those wishing to work, party, or houseclean until dawn. Red Bull has nearly half the caffeine of an 8-ounce cup of coffee, and is often consumed in far greater amounts. Young adults chug it like Gatorade at nightclubs, mixing it with vodka and hopeless pick-up lines.

Anyway, Dietrich and his ad team came up with slogans like "You don't drink it, you use it." Pretty soon, he had half the world's population jacked up like a '78 Impala getting an oil change. Sort of like the beverage equivalent of Gary Busey and Ted Nugent debating the term "head-banging" at the top of their lungs. The company's clever promotions linked the drink with extreme sporting events, catering to ambitious go-getters who think sleep is for wimps. No rest for future world-beaters; you can snooze when you die. (Unless you're sent to the "bad place" where you'll have to spend eternity being interviewed by Joan Rivers.)

Although it seems much longer ago, Red Bull didn't charge American shores until 1997. It now sells 1.92 billion cans globally each year. Our friend Mateschitz is, naturally, a billionaire and the man personally responsible for the fact that my next-door neighbor has the energy and urge to vacuum at 3am.

Red Bull's PR is great; its effect on health and well-being questionable. Besides, you don't have to be a caffeine-charged super-achiever to get ahead. Look at George Bush. He's the leader of the free world, and he goes to bed at 9pm.

Lawrence Mitchell Garrison is an LA-based freelance publicist and writer

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