Tag Archives: Red Bull

Radical Rebranding: Can the NRA Succeed in a Big Brand Shift?

Stylish city-dwellers and fashionable young women aren’t exactly the first connections that come to mind when you mention the National Rifle Association (NRA). Even so, that’s exactly the image that the organization is cultivating  with “Freestyle,” its new foray into the world of original video content.

Colion Noir YouTube Channel

NRA ‘Freestyle’ presenter Colion Noir has a longstanding presence on YouTube

Some have denounced the effort as opportunistic propaganda, while others point to the fact that the presenter in question achieved niche celebrity status long before the NRA came along. Although the original date of Colion Noir’s connection with the NRA is unclear, a (completely unscientific) look over his YouTube channel suggests that his current popularity dates back at least two years.

The more engaging question is whether this NRA rebranding effort could begin to change opinions about this polarizing organization?

Radical Rebranding

At the association’s national convention in Indianapolis last month, EVP Wayne LaPierre made the case for a more inclusive NRA than mainstream media tends to portray. He said this was:

“A gathering—and you know we are—of all ages, all political parties, races, all religions. A gathering of people who just love our great nation.”

Of course branding is firmly rooted in perception, and regardless of political bias, the prevailing image of the NRA is not one of diversity and tolerance.

The desire to rebrand the organization from radical to refined is understandable, given the wider national back-and-forth over gun control vs. protection of the Second Amendment and another election season looming large on the horizon.

The means the organization has chosen to communicate this change of image are also  fundamental to an emerging trend in brand management.

Brands Aren’t Just Publishers, They’re Producers

The Freestyle web video channel marks a powerful new tool in the locker of brand managers: exclusive original programming.

We all see just how fractured the entertainment industry has become as digital platforms challenge traditional broadcasters. Now all points of view can be aired not only on personal blogs and Facebook pages, but with sharply produced video content and engaging social media presence.

Perhaps the most forward-thinking element of the NRA is its embrace of this nascent trend, where many younger viewers are to be found. Moving to a less controversial name, the likes of Red Bull show us just how far some big brands are diving into a deep investment in content production.With a dedicated “Media House” it is blazing a trail into this brave new world of branding.

If the NRA comes anywhere close to following Red Bull’s conceptual lead, its rebranding effort may not seem quite so radical after all.

Hype and Hate: What Next for Shaun White (and His Million Dollar Endorsements)?

Red Bull Shaun White

Shaun White takes center stage at many Red Bull events

Globally renowned – and, by some, reviled – snowboarder Shaun White entered an unfamiliar phase of his career yesterday; being associated with failure.

The two-time Olympic gold medalist was unable to add a third consecutive win to his tally on the halfpipe at Sochi 2014, leaving him to face down critics and the next steps of a career that has previously reflected only success.

White has more riding on this failure than most. With brand endorsements from Burton to Red Bull and Oakley to Target, the snowboarding icon has wide-ranging associations estimated at an annual value of more than $10 million. That’s before he even sets foot on a board and into a competition, which means he can take some time to decide what comes next. How long he can take is another question entirely.

At the age of 27, White is by no means in the twilight of his career. He can continue to enter high-profile annual competitions like the Winter X-Games to fuel his associations with high energy, alternative sports brands.

But the big one will be the next Winter Olympics, at which he will be 31 and a certified elder statesman of this youthful sport. Only another medal would convince sponsors if he follows that path, as rising U.S. stars like Danny Davis snap at his heels.

White has, of course, built a brand that will endure beyond any one failure. Over the last decade he’s put his sport on the map and, in many ways, become the face of snowboarding.That will have to transition to retirement some time soon, at which point he’ll have any number of fashion, video game and movie opportunities to pursue.

In many ways Shaun White represents a microcosm of the personal sports brand: high value, a limited window of opportunity, and the inevitable highs and lows based on the success and failure of any given performance. What sets him apart from many in the snowboarding community is his ruthless desire to win, which is exactly the quality that should see him through these tough times in Sochi.

Interruption Out, Integration In for Brand Ads in 2014

Pinterest blooms flower

Image Credit: MKH Marketing

Showcasing two trends in one, three quarters of brand marketers surveyed opted to use some form of sponsored image in 2013, with paid for Pinterest pins experiencing significant uptake in their first few months of testing.

What this shows is not only the surge in popularity of marketing based largely on visuals, but also the need to communicate brand value by integrating with content rather than interrupting it.

The term ‘native advertising’ gained a lot of prominence in the past twelve months, alongside content marketing and a growing focus on brands becoming publishers.

All of these ideas coalesce into the desire to line up alongside the content being consumed with more subtle, associative advertising, not ram the message home in a disruptive manner. Then there are the brands that connected with other events to create their own viral visual content, with Oreo being the most famous example with its Superbowl tweet/ad in February.

Visual, contextual, and still selling, albeit beneath other layers of value, is setting the stage for brands in 2014.

Big Brands Go Their Own Way

While many focus on the need to associate with quality content, the biggest brands are taking matters into their own hands. Red Bull exemplifies this concept with its Red Bull TV and live event initiatives.


By producing its own content, it has both the control and deeper connection that many brands seek with their target market. That said, the cost is clearly prohibitive for most organizations, leaving sponsorship and paid native ads a sufficient alternative.

Elsewhere in the big brand world, Coca Cola sees such value in the creation of content to increase awareness that it has dedicated an entire section of its strategy to ‘liquid content‘. Placing the emphasis on customer stories and the user-generated content that this can provide, the idea puts a different spin on the same concept; provide something that those interested in your company’s values will find attractive, then deliver it under the banner of your brand.

2014 promises to be the year that brands evolve into fully fledged content marketing, with social media at the heart of the engine to spread the work and the growth in brand awareness that it delivers.

Red Bull Takes on Cliff Diving with Instagram

Red Bull Cliff DivingRed Bull has been one of the most successful brands worldwide when it comes to social media. In the past they’ve engaged in some of the most well known and some of the most expensive projects when it comes to social media programming. Felix Baumgartner’s jump from space is one that comes immediately to mind.

Now, it’s time for Instagram. Last month Red Bull tapped three photographers, @danrubin@jeera and @chaiwalla, to shoot the World Cliff Diving Championships at the Blue Lagoon on the Pembrokeshire coastline in Wales. The resulting 21,000 + pix were put together in a fantastic stop-action video of the day. It’s an awesome compilation and a unique way to make the mosts out of Instagram:

Instagram + Brands = $1 Billion

Something told us that it might be a good time to blog about how Instagram is being used to promote brands in social media. $1 billion does speak pretty loudly these days, so there must be something to it. Here’s a roundup of articles on how brands are using Instragram.

  • The Social Media blog presented a top ten list of early Instragram adopters last year. Playboy, Gucci, ABC News and Red Bull were among those named.
  • Last year, Mashable observed that while many retailers were getting hip to Instagram, it hadn’t yet been fully embraced by the music world. The blog offered a list of tips to bands to better living through photos.
  • The blog Fashion’s Collective has touted Instagram as the “must have” for fashion brands. It describes the app as a great way for brands to spread the word among fashionistas and for users to generate their own content is support of the their own favorites.
  • Bergdorf Goodman created a terrific, interactive Instagram campaign for its shoes by creating its own “Shoes About Town” app. Shoe enthusiasts were invited to take pictures of their own favorites in locations around Manhattan using Instagram and to post them to the Bergdorf map. 
  • Starbucks is also getting into the act, inviting devotees to post their Starbucks inspired photos on Instragram with #starbucks and to follow them on the photo site. It’s featuring some of its favorites on the Starbucks website.