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Red Bull ‘beats blackmailer to the punch’

Red Bull responds to threats

When the 'crap' hits the fan, do you run and hide?

March 17, 2013 11:04 by

Red Bull recently learned that it’s not just brands or the media that like to capitalise on the hype of any situation or incident. It’s also blackmailers.

Last week, the Austrian company decided to publicly reveal a blackmailer’s threat to taint its energy drinks with faeces unless ‘they’ were paid off. Red Bull is eminently known for heavily marketing its products, associating its brand image with extreme sporting events (Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking space dive) and, most recently, selling 5.2 billion cans last year. This time, it was their moment to be arguably bold.

They didn’t elaborate on their short statement, according to Reuters, but said the main purpose of going public was to remove the “blackmailer’s greatest lever” of disclosing it in the media. The company didn’t comment further, but did add that nothing was found during checks at the particular stores the blackmailer was referring to.

Ask any communications professional, marketing expert or brand consultant and they’ll all tell you how vital crisis management is for a brand. Many prefer the sweep-it-under-the-rug method and pray for the crisis to quickly blow over, rather than making a relatively embarrassing public announcement.

In this case, while the statement may have a slight effect on their sales, it’s better than waiting for the rumour mill to start churning out stories that would ultimately ignite public panic. “It’s a bold brand and a bold move,” said Gordon Pincott, chairman of global solutions at the Millward Brown brands specialist agency to Reuters. “The good thing about what they’ve done with this announcement is it doesn’t let the rumour mill get going.”

During a time where multiple brands have been named and shamed for having horse DNA and faecal matter in their food products, Kipp can’t help but admire Red Bull’s urge to act and respond quickly, because we certainly haven’t seen the same from others.


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