The recent passing of Thai billionaire and Red Bull co-founder Chaleo Yoovidhya got me thinking about the world’s most recognizable – and profitable – energy drink. In 2010, Red Bull posted revenue of $5.1 billion. This considerable sum came from the consumption of 4 billion cans of the drink that “gives you wings.” Red Bull’s success paved the way for numerous imitators with energetic names like Monster, RockStar, Full Throttle and Amp. Not long on nuance, energy drinks don’t attract similar snobbery among drinkers as coffee, tea or wine do. Energy drinks don’t sell for their taste (you might say they sell despite it). Instead, they sell on image. From working man to Superman with the Red Bull brand
Written accounts peg Yoovidhya coming from humble beginnings, working hard for most of his 80 to 90 years (there’s some variance among his reported birth dates). Yoovidhya’s consistent dedication made up for little-to-no formal education. The New York Times documents him he starting a small pharmaceutical company in the 1960s. TC Pharmaceuticals later developed energy “tonics” aimed at laborers and truckers trying to simply get through long work days. In the early 1980s, while working in sales for the German household products company Blendax, Austrian businessman Dietrich Mateschitz discovered the natural Asian “tonics” available in Yoovidhya’s small pharmacy. While the pair made a mutually beneficial deal to manufacture Red Bull, Mateschitz is responsible for the extreme success of the Red Bull we know today. “Way Back Home,” Red Bull Stratos 2012 and A-1 of the Miami Herald Rather than spend its budget on traditional beverage industry media like TV or outdoor advertising, Red Bull went guerilla to put its brand and cans in the eyes and hands of its most likely drinkers: 18 to 34 year-old-males. These guerilla marketing tactics went underground, made the...