Marketing Ethics: Energy Drink, anyone?

“Red Bull gives you wings!”, a well recognized company slogan that belongs to the company Red Bull which specializes in the sale of energy drinks. Red bull is seen almost everywhere – Dedicated Red Bull fridges in grocery stores, Red Bull cars on street corners handing out free samples, and the sponsorships of sport teams, events and crazy stunts. Haven’t seen any of Red Bull’s stunts or videos? Have a look at here:

While not sponsored by Red Bull, this video is partly sponsored by Monster Energy Drink:

How exactly does an energy drink differ from coffee or tea? And should energy drinks be targeted at youths and young adults?

An energy drink not only contains caffeine, but a mix of other stimulants that are marketed as providing the consumer a higher order of mental and physical stimulation (ingredients include taurine and glucuronolactone). While some studies demonstrate that this is true (read the abstract here), there have also been studies demonstrating potential health hazard to adolescents and young adults due to the over-consumption of these drinks (caffeine over dose).

While I must admit that there were some nights where I turned to a Red Bull to jump-start my mental state, I personally think that the culture that Red Bull is indirectly promoting is unhealthy and potentially damaging lifestyle for youths and young adults. While coffee has the same amount of caffeine dosage as a standard 250mL can of Red Bull, Red bull can be more easily consumed at “social” events, and is seen as a go to caffeine substitute next to coffee. While Red Bull is not explicitly marketing its image as a “party” or adrenaline-seeking energy drinking brand, the athletes that Red Bull does sponsor as well as the events it hosts seem to drive that perception – so what is Red Bull’s true image then? What image are they striving for? Perhaps Red Bull should take a step back and analyze what impact its market has on the youth population.

Energy drinks in moderation, like anything else in this world, is alright. It shouldn’t be viewed as the drink to cure sleep deprevation, but at the same time it shouldn’t been seen as a vice for the “social” culture.  There have been studies that have shown the benefits of energy drinks, while other studies have shown potential health risks to youths and young adults. Certainly, the best option is to consume energy drinks a “normal” level, and it is ultimately up to the consumer to realize what is best for their own health and interests.

One thought on “Marketing Ethics: Energy Drink, anyone?

  1. Hi there, I really like the subject your post explores – marketing is a powerful tool, and it’s true that the marketing of energy drinks is a loaded topic concerning kids and young adults. I like how you pointed out that energy drinks like Red Bull are more easily consumed in social situations (rather than coffee) – it’s so common now for energy drinks to be a staple at bars, clubs and house parties, and over-consumption is a very real danger. We discuss similar topics on our blogs – my #canthecan blog explores the health effects of energy drink over-consumption, and is geared towards teens and young adults. If you’re interested, you can check us out at

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