Red Bull is an energy drink aimed at students and athletes. No one thought that a “functional drink” sold at a premium price and packaged in a can would ever be successful, when the idea first came up in 1987 (www.redbull.co.uk 13.05.2009), however the product became quite popular amongst young people and frequently drank at night clubs as a ‘mixer’ (mixed with other drinks, e.g. vodka and whisky). The company’s marketing was also quite successful and the ‘buzz’ that the high level of caffeine in Red Bull seemed to give people went well with the slogan “gives you wings”. This also fit well with the long lasting parties that became so popular in the 90’s (raves), since people seemed to last longer with energy drinks.
Red Bull, has its image associated to two quite different lifestyles; firstly the nightlife, young people and alcohol (direct or indirectly) and to sports, through the sponsoring of athletes, which is something they started to do probably to balance out the negative associations that go hand in hand with being a ‘night drink’. Moreover, Red Bull had issues when associations of their product to ‘risky behaviour’ began to show up. Research showed that people consuming energy drinks on a regular basis were more prone to acting irresponsibly (since the use of energy drinks tends to make people feel less drunk than they might actually be), such as drunk driving or having unsafe sex, and many of them were reported to have heart palpitations and shortness of breath (www.terra.com.br 13.05.2009). Moreover, some people were described to being actually drunk with caffeine; so students for example, were only awake when under the influence of the drink, and they suddenly became very sleepy when the effect passed.
Trying to reach a balance between these two extremes is probably one of the main problems that Red Bull and its competitors face. Nonetheless, even though they seem to be under some sort of...