Red Bull is, of course, known for its energy drinks. But on the back of these stimulating beverages, a global brand was born. Red Bull’s origins date back to the 1970s, when Dietrich Mateschitz, a plucky entrepreneur from Austria, first tasted the popular Thai energy drink Krating Daeng. Intrigued by its aid in curing his jet lag, Mateschitz connected with the drink’s originator Chaleo Yoovidhya, forming a partnership that would later become the groundwork for a range of business ventures.
Debuting in 1992, charming cartoon ads featuring the brand’s catchy slogan, “Red Bull gives you wings,” began to make the energy drink a household name. But it was the brand’s marketing strategy of creating and hosting extreme sport games that skyrocketed its popularity.
Today, Red Bull is a multi-lane company with a hand in industries like music, sports, travel, and media. But despite the brand’s massive growth, its original beverage roots continue to be the face of the brand.
Amped to learn more? Here are 11 more things to know about Red Bull.
For Red Bull, Imitation Was the Sincerest Form of Flattery.
The name “Red Bull” is based completely on the Thai energy drink Krating Daeng, a brand originally founded by Chaleo Yoovidhya in 1976. In English, the name Krating Daeng translates to “red bison.” After trying the drink on a business trip to Thailand, Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz was inspired to create and market a similar beverage to European countries — even using the same name as the aforementioned brand.
Slowly, Red Bull made its way across the globe.
Even though it debuted in 1987, it took Red Bull some time to gain traction across the world. For the first six years of its existence, the energy drink lived only in Austria before reaching the U.K. and Germany in 1994. It first began popping up on American supermarket shelves in 1997, and it finally reached the Middle East in 2000. Once its reach became truly global, Red Bull began launching new releases and flavors to better appease Western tastes.
Red Bull dominates the world energy drink market…
In 1984, Mateschitz and Yoovidhya came together to create the private company Red Bull GmbH to mass-produce the energy drink. After slightly modifying the original formula of Krating Daeng to better suit Westerners’ tastes, Red Bull was born. Today, Red Bull GmbH produces and distributes both Red Bull and Krating Daeng. And with Red Bull positioned as the premium beverage between the two, Mateschitz and Yoovidhya dominate both ends of the spectrum — continuing to market the drinks separately to their respective Eastern and Western consumers.
… And it’s still America’s favorite energy drink
Over the years, U.S drinkers have been introduced to a wide variety of energy drinks, including a rosé-flavored version. But even as these new players pile up on the market, Red Bull remains the most popular choice. In 2020 alone, 7.9 billion cans of Red Bull were sold worldwide.Today, the brand continues to be the top-selling energy drink in America.
There’s more than one way to Red Bull.
Presently, there are 10 different types of Red Bull beverages available on the market. To date, the lineup includes original Red Bull, Red Bull Sugarfree, Red Bull Zero, and six Red Bull Edition flavors. The Edition collection consists of the following flavors: Tropical, Blueberry, Watermelon, Peach-Nectarine, Coconut Berry, and Pomegranate. Though they began as a series and flavors are often released seasonally, these six are now part of the brand’s year-round collection.
You can get your wings without the sugar…
The Red Bull lineup includes two sugarless beverages, Red Bull Sugarfree and Red Bull Zero. Although both contain no sugar, there is a distinct ingredient difference between them.
Released in 2003, Red Bull Sugarfree was the brand’s response to increasing concerns about the amount of sugar in energy drinks. In place of sugar, its formula included the synthetic sweetener aspartame and the non-caloric sweetener acesulfame potassium. While this formula met the bill, fans of Red Bull’s signature taste were not too pleased. So, in 2018, Red Bull Zero was released. The new sugar-free formula contains acesulfame potassium and sucrose and was designed to taste more like Red Bull’s original flavor.
…Or without the caffeine.
In 2019, Red Bull took a detour from energy drinks to release a line of natural sodas called Organics by Red Bull. The collection includes four varieties — Simply Cola, Bitter Lemon, Ginger Ale, and Tonic Water — and focuses on flavor without additives. All the sodas are caffeine-free — save for the cola, which includes naturally derived caffeine from coffee beans — and boast natural ingredients like organically farmed beets and quassia wood.
Red Bull was banned in France for 12 years.
In every Red Bull, drinkers will find taurine, an organic amino acid that can be found naturally in meat, fish, and dairy products. It is also a key additive to energy drinks for its ability to stimulate cognitive performance when combined with caffeine. However, due to several studies that linked high levels of taurine and caffeine to health issues, Red Bull was banned in France in 1996. But, with no definitive proof of negative health effects, the ban was lifted in 2008 and Red Bull was placed back on shelves.
There’s a wide world of Red Bull extreme sports.
Through its unique marketing strategy of creating a series of extreme sporting events, Red Bull became commercially linked to various professional sports like windsurfing, skiing, BMX, and car racing, to name a few. The beverage conglomerate now hosts worldwide events and provides sponsorship for dozens of athletes across a variety of disciplines.
The Red Bull brand is more than just canned beverages.
Along with its famous energy drinks, the brand has also launched a media company named Red Bull Media House that specializes in sports, music, and gaming programming. Through this company, the brand publishes a lifestyle magazine, produces a multi-platform streaming channel, and hosts the world-traveling lecture series Red Bull Music Academy.
Red Bull fans can spread their wings on exclusive trips.
For eccentric travelers and extreme sports lovers who crave a trip that is less than ordinary, Red Bull offers a unique traveling experience through Red Bull Destination. This travel agency offers tailor-made trips — designed for adventurous travelers — to locations around the world. From climbing in the French Alps with a world-class mountaineer, to kayaking in the Patagonian wilderness, each trip is surely a one-of-a-kind experience. Prices can range between $2,000 and $8,000, depending on the duration, location, and type of activity.