Red Bull Racing, RB Leipzig, EHC Red Bull Munich. Formula 1, football, ice hockey. Pieces of a huge empire. A sports kingdom where marketing has been redefined. A media empire.
Always and everywhere the name says it all: Red Bull. And the name is linked to one person: Dietrich Mateschitz. A doer who avoided public exposure, but needed PR for his company more than anything else.
The way to the top
The Austrian became a multi-billionaire with his company. He shaped generations of athletes with Red Bull. Lifestyle, adventure, risk, borderline experiences. Extreme sport with a high-gloss finish, protagonists as heroes. And he himself: the robust Styrian, tanned, three-day beard, the leather jacket just draped over his broad shoulders.
Striking, but also worth discussing. Mateschitz also attracted attention with right-wing populist statements. And the company's own broadcaster Servus TV has already been criticized because it is said to have given conspiracy theorists and lateral thinkers a platform.
Mateschitz' career began as a toothpaste manager, and his triumph began with a trip to Asia in the early 1980s. A patriarch who became the richest citizen of the Alpine Republic of Austria. A self-made man with his own island.
He died at the age of 78. His long-time companion Helmut Marko confirmed the news of his death on Saturday a few minutes before the Formula 1 qualifier for the US Grand Prix in the Austin paddock on the Sky broadcaster. "We knew he was in a very serious state of health, but still, now that it's happened, it's unbelievable for all of us," said Red Bull's motorsport advisor.
company and succession
For him, Mateschitz is the most impressive entrepreneur "we've ever had in Austria, if not worldwide," said Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff: "He created a brand and an area that didn't exist before. What he did for the sport has and how much he has given to the sport has not existed before."
The red bull became Red Bull. It was the coup of his life. At the end of September, Forbes magazine listed him as 75th among the world's super-rich with a fortune of 19 billion US dollars, although the marketing genius was once more enthusiastic about architecture. Mateschitz, who was born on May 20, 1944 in St. Marein im Mürztal, later studied business administration at the Vienna University of Applied Sciences.
advertising in sports
His path led him through the marketing departments of Unilever, Jacobs and the toothpaste manufacturer Blendax before he tried it on his own, took his money and put it in one of the most famous cans in the world. It is supposed to be a pick-me-up, but it was not approved in Germany until 1994, for example, because of the synthetically produced amino acid taurine.
Mateschitz did not want to advertise in sports like other companies, he made the brand and the name Red Bull part of the sport. In Salzburg, not far from the picturesque company headquarters in Fuschl am See, the drinks company joined the local first division soccer team in 2005. In 2005, Red Bull Racing also celebrated its Formula 1 premiere, initially ridiculed as a party squad, five years later respected as world champions.
With Sebastian Vettel, the team won the driver's and constructor's titles four times in a row. Formula 1 also returned to Austria - to the Red Bull Ring, of course. On this occasion, the billionaire had around 5,000 houses freshly painted with his financial aid in 2014, new garden fences created or fresh plants planted. This year Mateschitz did not show up at the home race. It was one of the few that world champion Max Verstappen did not win in the outstanding Red Bull on the way to the second title in a row.
When Mateschitz invests, it has to pay off. Just like at RB Leipzig. Founded in May 2009, promoted to the Bundesliga in May 2016 and a year later made their Champions League debut, last season DFB Cup winner.
Sports, real estate, media
In addition to his sports and real estate empire, Mateschitz had also created a media empire. "The Red Bulletin" or "Terra Mater", TV channels like Servus TV and numerous online activities - the perfect complement. Red Bull reports on Red Bull. When Servus TV threatened to set up a works council in 2016, Mateschitz announced that he would close the station. When the plan for a works council was put aside again under pressure from the company boss, Servus TV continued as usual.
Mateschitz and Red Bull are not free from criticism either. "As if the dead had never existed," was the headline of "Der Spiegel" in an article about Red Bull athletes who lost their lives in high-risk sports with their spectacular shots. The ARD once dedicated a report entitled "The dark side of Red Bull." On the other hand, Mateschitz has helped with his fortune since 2004 that paraplegia could be better treated in the future. Together with the two-time motocross world champion Heinz Kinigadner, whose son is in a wheelchair after an accident, he founded the private foundation "Wings for Life".