Can You Improve on a Good Idea? (Let’s Hope You Respond with a Resounding ‘Yes’.)

How appropriate in a flight flight museum. Because as we all know, Red Bull gives you wings. Photo courtesy of Gerhard Palnstorfer.
How appropriate to see this in an airport. Because as you know, Red Bull Gives You Wings.
Photo courtesy of Gerhard Palnstorfer.

We had a secret project the other day.

A marketing company asked for an opinion on the creative work their ad agency did on a project.

It was professional but not thrilling.

We say ‘it’ because there was just one idea to answer the brief.

Could they have gone further?

Depending on the kind of marketer you are, you might be tempted to put that question another way: ‘shouldn’t they have produced a number of ideas?’

The answer is ‘yes’.

It reminded us of an old joke about solutions.

‘A solution is when everyone in the room gets tired of thinking.’

Unhappily, that can often be the case.

Still, it made us think of a company in Thailand that didn’t stop thinking.

Their product was called Krathing Daeng, which translates as Red Water Buffalo.

You know it as Red Bull.

A businessman called Chaleo Yoovidhya invented Krathing Daeng in Bangkok in the 1970s.

It was a success from the start. A local success.

A favorite with truck drivers and factory workers, it kept them awake and alert through long shifts.

An Austrian marketing director for a toothpaste brand, Dietrich Mateschitz, tried Krathing Daeng when visiting Bangkok.

He liked it and it cured his jet lag. A pleasure and a remedy in one.

The story becomes a bit of a fairy tale at this point.

Mateschitz saw the energy drink as a promising seller on the international market.

So in 1984 Dietrich Mateschitz and Chaleo Yoovidhya signed a business agreement.

Mateschitz considered the Red Water Buffalo name and changed it to Red Bull.

He played with the flavor thinking of western tastes and added just the right amount of fizz.

As design drives desire he packaged Red Bull in a distinguishing silver and blue can. One that catches your eye with an unusual slimness.

A shining example of ‘less is more’.

Red Bull was launched in Austria in 1987.

No doubt you know the rest of the success story. I believe it stretches to 79 countries.

The brand purposely blurred the line between energy drinks, sports and entertainment.

So Red Bull has become something of a lifestyle event in itself.

It appears everywhere from cliff diving competitions in Portugal to Grand Prix Racing worldwide.

It involves alternative music, rock concerts, motocross, mountain biking, 3-on-3 basketball, air races, block parties, art parties, cricket, rallycross, festivals, snowboarding and fringe athletics like surfing in the Arctic.

Equally, you have flying contests over water in home-made aircraft.

As you no doubt know there’s a hint of danger and edginess to the brand.

It’s echoed in the alternative nature of sponsored events, guerilla marketing and the line, Red Bull Gives You Wings.

Millennials have little trouble identifying with that.

But more importantly, Red Bull has a lifestyle expression that’s hard to copy.

You can put that down to one fact. They have a strong disregard for the obvious.

An intelligent move, that.

Because the obvious usually gets you no further than the solutions your competitors adopt.

At that point things can go awry, consigning you to the title of ‘entreprenerror’ … if you’ll excuse the pun.

Both Dietrich Mateschitz and Chaleo Yoovidhya became billionaires.

Not bad as a ‘second career’ for a toothpaste marketer, eh?

Chaleo Yoovidhya passed away last year.

Today, according to Forbes Magazine, Dietrich Mateschitz has wings on his bank account. He’s reportedly worth $9.2 billion.

So how about you? Can you improve on a good idea? Have you got true teamwork ability in your company?

Can you and your people see a future nobody else can and capitalize on it?

Do your ideas go far enough to leave the competition behind?

To get working on all this, do one thing.

Start by finding that Dietrich Mateschitz spirit that resides in you.

Share with us. There’s often a big difference between borderline terrific and totally terrific. Tell us about your experience in tweaking a good idea to make it better. Thanks, Steve Ulin



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