October 4, 2023

Subliminal vs 80/20 Marketing: How Redbull does it Right

By Paitra Daniels

There exists a golden ratio in marketing content creation and distribution: the 80/20 rule. The rule is a social media marketing recipe featuring 80% of content that entertains and educates target audiences, while 20% of content features business promotion and product placement. While some brands tailor the ratio to fit their values and strategy, some have found success in the classic approach. Redbull, however, has abandoned the ratio to the extreme side of the spectrum: 1:0.

Redbull has amassed a following of 8.6 million followers on Tiktok without ever featuring their silver cans of caffeine. Instead, they opt to use their platform to spotlight compelling athletes in action, brand-hosted events and adrenaline junkies. Redbull’s strategy is to focus on selling a feeling rather than a product: limitlessness. By positioning athletes with large followings and entertaining personalities, Redbull has invigorated their values to be fresh, fit and full of life. Building their social media presence by catering towards this community has lifted the brand to an engagement percentage of 59%, dominating the market.

When comparing Redbull’s social media engagement to their competitors’ accounts on the platform, Bang Energy, Guayaki Yerba Mate and Monster Energy fall flat. Monster places second to Redbull, with a similar approach to RedBull’s fearless slice of life paired with a few cans sprinkled on their page. Moreso aligned with the 80:20 rule, it is still not enough to overtake Redbull.

This denotes a massive change in marketing approaches from previous generational marketing strategies, which focused on celebrity and mega influencers donning products on their platforms. It has been documented throughout generations that trends operate on a pendulum. The power to influence consumers has shifted away from large corporations towards micro-influencers. People with followings of 1k to 50k possess the most reach with audiences as their brands are conflated with values of visibility and honesty. Consumers look to their experiences as a trial run to avoid being bamboozled by big brands.

Redbull, a legacy brand, has capitalized on this. Recognizing the consumer distrust when brandishing products to consumers, the brand implemented local athletic heroes into their social media strategies, finding massive success doing so. On their page, they’ve chosen to spotlight their influencers doing bold activities while subtly advertising their products, opting to show rather than tell. Tiktok being their largest following across their media portfolio signals an appeal to the younger generations: Millennials, Gen-Z and Gen-A, which value their creative approach.

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