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March 29, 2005

Jack Covert Selects: Jack Covert Selects - Brand Hijack: Marketing without Marketing

By: Jack @ 9:18 PM – Filed under: Management & Workplace Culture

Brand Hijack: Marketing without Marketing by Alex Wipperfurth, Portfolio, 288 Pages, $24.95, Hardcover, February 2005, ISBN 1591840783.
There are thousands of books about brands, brand management, and branding. Believe me, I have seen and read most of them in the last twenty years. I think Alex Wipperfurth takes a different path on his idea of branding with his new book called Brand Hijack: Marketing without Marketing.
This book has the best case study I have seen on Red Bull and how they allowed their customers to hijack their brand. Red Bull's first expansion outside of its native Austria was to Germany. The legal importation of Red Bull took five years for the government to approve. During this time, there was a huge black market in Munich for it. and people started asking why it was illegal. Rumors started to fly about effects of the drink (speed in a can?) to its source (bull testicles?). Upon approval in Germany, a concerned mother's group stepped forward and campaigned to have the drink banned. This organized resistance only made it that much more popular with young people. Wipperfurth believes the Red Bull's brand has "[early consumers] fingerprints" all over it. The important thing is that Red Bull let the myths and the controversy persist. This is a great example of letting your customers co-create the brand with you.
The author has a lot of other great thoughts too: he believes that one has to start with a compelling idea, and cautions companies that believe non-traditional methods are cheap. They are often multi-year projects with very specific plans and goals. At the end of the book, Wipperfurth lays out a framework for allowing a successful hijack. Consider yourself warned - let your company be hijacked. Really, it's a good thing.
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