Red Bulletin – The inside story of Red Bull’s monthly magazine

Robert Sperl, editorial director at Red Bulletin, will attend Super Content Marketing 21 April in Stockholm. He tells us about Red Bull’s monthly magazine that is published in five languages and available on ten markets.

The magazine, which is a lifestyle magazine for 20-35-year-olds, started 1 May 2007 and today has 50-60 employees and lives on advertising revenue, but is also sold in stores or distributed by companies. A portion of the proceeds comes from the parent company, for which the magazine is a marketing tool.

Red Bulletin’s editorial director Robert Sperl reflects on last year, but does not want to share any specific figures.

”The media industry was a bit tricky, but it went pretty okay for us. We started in Korea during the fourth quarter. It’s a very interesting market in terms of the language. But we worked with a media house that helps foreign clients get established in Korea, so that made things easier for us. We’ve received feedback from our readers and we know what we have to change.”

What kind of content can you use all over the world?
“The strategy for the magazine is simple. 70-30 percent content split. 70 percent of the main content is global. The rest of the content is used to make the magazines local.”

How did the market develop for you?
“We have a good position. We are a media house that not only distributes content, we are also a company that creates content, with the help from our athletes and cultural figures. Red Bull Media House is a 360-degree media company. From classic print to book publishing, from gaming to mobile, from TV to movie production, from radio to music production. We create most of the content ourselves and then it gets easier to distribute it compared to companies that have to buy expensive content. We can take content from our shelves and use it. People like Red Bull’s philosophy and then they also like our content. We’re in a nice position, even if we can’t take it easy every day.”

What are your thoughts on creating content?
“If we don’t have the sports disciplines that we want to share with our readers, we invent them. There was no flight competition so we created the Red Bull Air Race. We invented the sport Crashed Ice. In the next step we will develop new disciplines. It doesn’t have to be related to the sports field. We will certainly be developing something for the gaming industry. The cultural scene is always interesting, with new bands and artists popping up, and the fact is we have all the necessary tools to spread the ideas that people approach us with. Imagination is a big thing.”

So, you don’t have to stick to reality, you invent it?
“Yes. That’s a nice way to put it.”

What else separates Red Bull from other media houses?
“We have the can company. We’re also not a traditional media house, and can do things differently. We don’t look at the numbers first, but at how we can create the most inspiration for our readers and viewers. We put our content, readers and ideas first. Then we develop the underlying business models to go with that. Traditional media might think print first and online later. This makes us sometimes faster than the others.”

How are you actually related to the “can company”?
“Red Bull is our parent company, it’s our largest core business. But the vision is that within a few years the media house will be as big as the can company. We have developed a company that sells 5 billion cans, but we’ve also developed a media house that’s growing, but still hasn’t reached its peak.”

How independent are you from the can company?
“It would be silly to say we’re 100 percent independent. As for Red Bulletin, we’re working hard to make it a sharp man’s magazine with independent journalists who tell great stories. We want to entertain the reader, but yes, we also look a bit at the brand. Today the Red Bull World is bigger than the Red Bull brand, and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

Would you collaborate with Red Bull’s competitors?
We have no fear of contact with other brands.”

How do you deliver return on investment to the parent company?
“Red Bulletin delivers marketing with its more than 2 million copies per month and thousands of daily online users, so there’s ROI for the parent company. The marketing value can be translated to numbers, but I can’t share any figures.”

Do you have any successors?
“I don’t know if we have any successors that do exactly what we do. As far as I know we’re pretty unique.”

What’s needed to create attractive content in 2016?
“The answer is simple. It’s about telling stories that people are interested in. Period. It sounds easy, but it’s about finding people who do the right thing and talking about them in the right way, finding images that fit, and finding the right platforms to reach your readers. Nothing has changed since Gutenberg. How skilled you are as a journalist determines how many readers you get. It’s like standing at a bar and telling a story. You have 5 seconds to get your buddies interested.”

Hasn’t distribution changed since Gutenberg and don’t users have other units to get hold of information?
“Imagine all the opportunities you have with modern units to explain and visualize the story, the mobile, the TV, or anything. You are aware of all the possibilities, but then it’s up to you to tell the story. That hasn’t changed.”

You’re visiting Stockholm to speak at Super Content Marketing on 21 April, what will you be talking about then?
“It will be about our magazine that goes beyond the ordinary. The message on the can reads ‘we give you wings.’ The message for the magazine is the same. You’ll leave the magazine faster than when you came. You’ll leave it more inspired. We want to inspire readers and give them the chance to learn from the best. For example about how Hollywood gives them wings. Not teaching our readers how to make film, but rather how to master their own lives. They will learn how to follow their own way.”

What is Red Bull World that you keep coming back to?
“It’s our philosophy about the world, perhaps it’s the whole world. We see ourselves as a trampoline. You jump higher and higher. And then you can fly and make tricks. We are facilitators. We say: ‘hey, you’re not stupid and boring, you’re creative and imaginative.’ We say trust yourself and do things differently. Maybe other magazines also say that. But we do it in a consistent manner so that reading Red Bulletin will always be worth your while.”