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Sport-related branded entertainment: the Red Bull phenomenon

Reinhard E. Kunz (Department of Media Management and Sport Media, Universitat Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)
Franziska Elsässer (Department of Media Management and Sport Media, Universitat Bayreuth, Bayreuth, Germany)
James Santomier (Department of Marketing and Sport Management, Sacred Heart University, Fairfield, Connecticut, USA)

Sport, Business and Management

ISSN: 2042-678X

Article publication date: 14 November 2016




The purpose of this paper is to introduce a conceptual model of branded entertainment into sport marketing and highlight Red Bull’s strategy as a “best practice”. Branded entertainment, the full integration of advertising into entertainment content, is an innovative marketing strategy that can provide sport enterprises and sponsors with consumer attention and engagement.


Branded entertainment was theoretically framed and conceptualised. Using an inductive approach Red Bull’s portfolio of self-generated action/extreme sport content as well as its production, distribution and viral processes were analysed.


A communication model of sport-related branded entertainment was developed to distinguish actors such as athletes, sponsors, and co-operating companies, traditional and new (sport) media as well as sport consumers and prosumers and analyse their actions and relationships.

Research limitations/implications

This study is limited to Red Bull’s branded entertainment activities. However, a thorough conceptualisation and analysis of branded entertainment and findings of unique characteristics and anomalies related to branded sport entertainment allows academics and professionals to understand and apply the concept.

Practical implications

The research theme triggers a dialogue and encourages marketing practitioners to consider alternative ways to engage their target audiences and expand their integrated communication strategies via a unique and dynamic promotional tool.


This paper contributes to the sport value framework by addressing “value co-creation” in a sport media and marketing context. By highlighting the Red Bull phenomenon as an innovative approach a successful integration of branding and sponsorship activities into sport entertainment content production, distribution and viral marketing is presented.



The authors would like to thank the editors and the three anonymous reviewers for their helpful comments, support and constructive suggestions on a previous draft.


E. Kunz, R., Elsässer, F. and Santomier, J. (2016), "Sport-related branded entertainment: the Red Bull phenomenon", Sport, Business and Management, Vol. 6 No. 5, pp. 520-541.



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Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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