A few weeks ago, while at the farmers' market with my kids, I noticed two young women sporting huge Red Bull backpacks. They were handing out free drinks to the vendors.
"Hi, there! Would you like a free Red Bull?"
They were chirky and cute. People noticed. Some stared.
When I first saw them, I assumed they were there to market their product to actual shoppers, but no, their stated purpose was to be kind to the vendors alone. You know, give them a little lift on a long, hot workday.
But was it really?
My kids and I followed them around for a bit. The market is small, and crowded, and I was intrigued because branded promotional activity of this sort never happens here. The vendors are the same folks week after week. I know several of them.
Had they asked the farmers' market association if they could have rented a stall or table, I'm not sure they would have been approved (though who knows?), but in simply walking around I'm guessing they couldn't be accused of breaking any rules. Also, they weren't selling anything, right? They were just giving farmers and vendors, who had probably woken up very early to make the long drive to San Jose, the generous gift of quaffable energy.
Some vendors accepted; others declined.
I was going to explain to my boys what a health halo was, but I didn't have to. They've lived with me long enough. "What do you think is going on here?" I asked.
My 10-year-old answered, after a beat. "I think they want people to see the farmers drinking Red Bull near all the fruits and vegetables. Then people will think it's healthy."
In a surprising discovery, Red Bull's current marketing plan is posted online here, accessible through a simple Google search.
One of their 3 goals is to "Position Red Bull as an alternative to coffee." Another is to "Increase interest in Red Bull among males and females age 35 to 65."
Finally, this: "Through the following year, Red Bull has set a goal to increase revenue by 20% $6.22 billion. By gaining customers in a new demographic, as well as releasing a revamped campaign, Red Bull believes this is possible."
Psst, hey, new demographic: is it possible?
Are you thirsty?