Red Bull Offers 'Ultra' Content

Red Bull has always looked for non-traditional ways to make an outsized impact. Clearly, it’s looking to do that again by making content available in four times the resolution of high definition on massive 84-inch TV sets.

The energy drink company appears to be the first marketer to take advantage of the emerging 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD) format. (There was a Taylor Swift video, if that counts). Consider, it wasn’t long ago that stories were being written about advertisers breaking ground by producing Super Bowl spots in HD -- they're all in that format, now.

Short-form videos produced in native 4K by the Red Bull Media House, a branded entertainment arm, are being distributed by Sony to owners of its new $25,000 UHD set. “The Athlete Machine: Red Bull Kluge” features top athletes skydiving, skateboarding, off-road trucking, hurdling (Olympian Lolo Jones), snowboarding and more with ample Red Bull logos and exposure. Separately, there are acoustic performances from songs produced Red Bull Records.   



The videos are among about 25 short-form ones Sony is providing in native 4K, along with 10 films, including “The Amazing Spiderman” and “The Karate Kid” (2010), to its UHD-set clientele.  Two of the films were re-mastered -- rather than originally shot in the UHD format: “Taxi Driver” and “The Bridge on the River Kwai.”

Red Bull, which looks to reach a young-male target, produced the action-sports video for multiple outlets. It’s available on YouTube, where clearly consumption will be more than on those pricey new sets, where there will be few owners for a while (though distribution of expensive new technologies always seems to happen faster than might be expected).

With word of the Red Bull videos, Sony has let it be known how native 4K content will be available in homes. (The UHD sets – LG has one out for a bargain $8,000 less – up-convert traditional content into a pristine form somewhere approaching 4K.)

Sony is making available a hard-disc player that attaches to the sets, with the content already installed. As more native 4K content is produced – such as by the Discovery/IMAX/Sony 3net Studios – Sony will send discs to set owners, who can upload them to their players.

Those paying the $25,000 are eligible to get the disc players on loan (wonder how Sony will ask for them back?). An app available for a Sony tablet serves as the remote control to play the content.

It’s considerably pricier to shoot content in native 4K than HD, but will other marketers join Red Bull in branded entertainment or other initiatives? Perhaps a luxury brand might find it a way to reach a target. Maybe some deep-pocketed ones will do it for bragging rights and media coverage like this.

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