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Published on March 24th, 2010

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Blog: How Relentless is taking on Red Bull

How do you address the market when Red Bull dominate the category they have created and consistently raise the communications bar when it comes to their ‘Gives you Wings’ positioning?

Since launching in 2006, Relentless has taken looked to differentiate itself within youth culture by creating an edgy brand persona. In what must be a culturally challenging exercise for the Coca Cola Company – especially their brand and legal teams, the marketing of Relentless has meant immersing the brand in the action sports, punk rock and motor sports worlds.

The brand’s strap line ‘No Half Measures’ plays to the 500ml serving size as well as it’s ‘no compromise’ attitude. Packaging is dark and the Relentless logo suggestive of tattoo art, setting the product aside from other offers on the shelf. Cans also feature a work by poets such as Lord Byron.

Indeed art and dark imagery is central to the brand’s appeal. It seeks to align itself with creativity, achievement and unswerving attitude by celebrating those in search of fulfillment in life – those who go ‘above and beyond’ in their chosen fields – both past and present. They call it ‘Artistry’. This positioning allows the brand to explore some interesting subjects, typified in the latest music-flavoured issue of the brand’s communications vehicle ‘This is the Order’.

A graphic art depiction of the life if Paganini, a piece on perennial innovators Warp Records, beautifully shot images of motocross riders and a rare interview with David Byrne are all packaged in a ultra high end style magazine format. It’s a fabulous exercise in premium positioning, accompanied by the website for the brands community/ self curated sub culture – known as ‘The Order’

Central to the brand’s communication campaign over recent months has been the remarkable feature length documentary ‘Lives of the Artists’. Shot in locations around the world, this beautiful piece of advertiser funded programming is a case study in branded content. This sort of creative work is the envy of communications agencies everywhere – we highly recommend setting aside an hour or so to check it out. Or you may have already caught it on Channel 4 in the UK.

Elsewhere the ongoing brand campaign runs along fairly familiar territory for soft drinks brands. The brand gets experiential with the sponsorship of alternative music and extreme sports events like the Kerrang! tour, Nass, London Freeze, Boardmasters, LoveBox and Wakestock. Sports sponsorships are pitched at the enthusiast’s end of the market with teams and drivers in motocross, BTCC, Formula Palmer Audi. Athlete endorsement in surfing, snowboarding & BMX is also a key campaign element.

Rather more creative is the brands ongoing series of events at the London Garage – Energy Sessions – featuring an eclectic mix of artists and performance art featuring punk/ hardcore, experimental classical and electro funk sets from emerging talent demonstrating their ‘Artistry’.

As you’d expect, the brand has been very active in social media building a consumer base of over 30,000 fans across 5 Facebook communities. Surprisingly the brand has a disappointing 600 followers on Twitter. With Red Bull on 34,000 followers and Monster Energy on over 18,000, the brand has a way to go in utlising microblogging in communications. Relentless also supports it’s music positioning with a Relentless Energy Music on MySpace.

PR activity has been understandably focussed on niche media channels in music, extreme sports and motor sports. Editorial features such as ‘The best ever encores’ have been placed to highlight the launch of the Relentless Energy Shot variant along with the standard supporting campaigns for event activity.

Many brands would kill to have the kind of marketing spend and distribution afforded by such a parent brand- and it’s no surprise that their marketing activity is so eye catching. However we at Boom! love the positioning and the execution of the work. Now Red Bull is becoming a truly mainstream brand, there are even more opportunities for Relentless to push the envelope even further to create what they so clearly crave – to become the credible challenger brand of choice in the youth market. With the category filling up with competition, there is a need to stand out more than ever.

We think more innovative and PR- worthy brand-created concepts – as opposed to existing event sponsorships – would help the brand build it’s audience and further differentiate itself from the competition.



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