The long march of RB Leipzig, which also employs two Hungarian national team players, is over: the Leipzig guard still performed a miracle, as they beat him from the fourth hat, that is, one of the weakest teams in the Champions League, and reached the semi-finals. Here, however, PSG, made up of world stars, has already stopped commanding the extremely enthusiastic and at times excellent German guard producing football. By the way, the second coach of PSG, Zsolt Lőw, also has a connection with Leipzig.

RB Leipzig is not only a surprise team in this year's BL: the East German club is one of the most successful products of Red Bull, which professes an unorthodox marketing strategy. The club has practically no tradition, no history, it was founded in 2009, while its most famous football teams were born towards the end of the nineteenth century or in the first years of the twentieth century.

The history of Red Bull has been intertwined with sports since its founding in 1987, but initially the brand appeared mainly in individual and especially extreme sports, such as mountain bike, BMX freestyle, wakeboard or motocross. They have even created special sports and events themselves, such as the Red Bull Air Race, which has been held since 2003. The emphasis was on individual performance: the best and/or most promising competitors were sought, who then declared at the end of the race that they had a Red Bull cap or helmet on their heads. In the selection of sports and athletes, it was also emphasized that their character fits well with the brand's message and slogan, i.e. that Red Bull “invigorates body and spirit” and “gives wings”.

That's why it was surprising when they joined the most popular team sport, football, in 2005. Interestingly, they also launched their Formula One project at that time, which we already know has become a success story from a sporting and marketing point of view. However, football, it seems, is a harder nut even than the “rushing circus”, grinding more slowly even the Red Bull mills working at lightning pace. Taking part in football seemed logical to the extent that they were looking for a football team in the homeland of the father of the brand, Dietrich Mateschitz, close to the headquarters of the brand.

The choice fell on SV Austria Salzburg, one of Austria's most successful teams. Of course, it was immediately renamed Red Bull Salzburg, which might even have been accepted by the fans. Little has been said, however, that the traditional purple-white color combination has been replaced by Red Bull's red and white. They didn't really like the fact that it was declared: this is a new club, without any history. In the end, the Austrian Football Association (ÖFB) itself asked to remove from the website that it was a sports association founded in 2005, as it has a significantly longer history. In the end, the fans and the new owner did not reach the vineyard, so much so that some of the former founded (that is, continued) SV Austria Salzburg. Red Bull Salzburg has become the “most hated club” among fans, but also according to media reports in the whole of Austria.


Red Bull has seen firsthand the importance of tradition in football. As a new “market entrant”, it takes not just years but decades for a team to gain widespread respect in the football world — even despite its obvious successes. So Red Bull got going and has since won nine Austrian championships, in addition to five cup victories. The Salzburg team is of outstanding quality at the national level, and they even marched to the semi-finals of the Europa League last year, which is less of a miracle in international football than the Austrian team.

However, not all Austrians are happy about professional successes in sports: they are outright despised by rival teams. “Untraditionalism” is one of the main arguments against them, as the patinated Rapid or Austria Wien, but even Sturm Graz are better names for the locals because of their more than a hundred years of history. Red Bull, on the other hand, does its job and, instead of chewing on criticism, is reaping its successes in turn, while also bringing the company's marketing know-how to the team. In terms of serving the fans, for example, they offer the most of the Austrian teams, and we were able to verify this personally during a Europa League match. In the children's playroom there are PS4 and Xbox, before the games there is also a poker tournament for adults, and of course in several categories there is a shooting strength meter, decathlon and penalty kick competitions, as well as various prize games. Three hours before the matches, the fan zone opens, where a delegated speaker is responsible for the mood, and an hour before the meetings, the players not named in the frame are available for autographs.

Perhaps the above experiences also contributed to the fact that after Red Bull bought the New York/New Jersey MetroStars team in 2006, it did not want to erase its past forever. The color of the jersey and the logo were new here, of course, but it was not about this being a brand new club. The fans were finally won over when Thierry Henry was confirmed in 2010, who became the most famous player in Major League Soccer (MLS) after David Beckham, who played for the Los Angeles Galaxy. Of course, European football still has its limits in America. In one case, he managed to produce a full house in New York, that is, 66,238 spectators: on August 18, 2007, which was also David Beckham's debut game in MLS. And although the average number of viewers is increasing from year to year, even in 2015 it remained below twenty thousand. The New York Red Bulls have never won the MLS Cup.

After Mateschitz took the football team in Austria in 2005 and then in the USA in 2006, Brazil followed in 2007. The club, Red Bull Brasil, founded here, is progressing very slowly: between 2009 and 2011 it moved up three classes. In 2008, a team from Ghana was acquired by the energy drink manufacturer, but they split from it in 2014.


The biggest success was undoubtedly in Germany: RB Leipzig climbed to the first division in 2016 and immediately remained unbeaten for thirteen rounds, ahead of teams such as Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund, Schalke 04 or Pál Dárdai's BSC Hertha. All this in such a way that the team is not only East German, from which there is traditionally no laurel in the Bundesliga, but in essence a brand new, artificially created club, behind which another would stand out than Dietrich Mateschitz.

The year after the purchase of Salzburg, in 2006, Mateschitz approached his good friend, German football legend Franz Beckenbauer, to offer him a German one, since he already had an Austrian team. Beckenbauer suggested Sachsen Leipzig, then playing in the fourth division. But it was more about the city: Leipzig was the fourteenth largest settlement in Germany, in the former East German territory only larger than Berlin, and part of it belonged to the GDR. An even more important argument could have been the construction of a 43,000 stadium in the city for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Mateschitz, on the other hand, did not succeed with the purchase of Saschen Leipzig: the German Football Association (DFB) did not allow a brand name to be used by the Leipzig team, and the club's fans constantly protested against the takeover. As reported by the weekly Sport Plus, Mateschitz then approached three teams in the western half of Germany, but in St. He was also rejected at Paulina, 1860 Munich and Fortuna Düsseldorf.

For a while, the matter was off the agenda. However, in 2009 they returned to Leipzig: only not to the aforementioned Saschen Leipzig, but to the Markranstädt team, located 13 kilometers from the city, and bought it together with the fifth-class club license. Of course, this was not an easy move either, as the name Red Bull Leipzig was not allowed by the DFB, because the rules prohibit clubs from adopting a sponsor name, as already mentioned. So it was necessary to come up with a tricky name: this is how the club RasenBallsport Leipzig became, in which Rasen means turf. The club's coat of arms, on the other hand, shows the logo quite clearly, and the team's nickname is Die Roten Bullen, meaning Red Bulls.

Those who broke forward like bulls. Of course, Mateschitz immediately invested a hundred million euros in strengthening the framework of the club, which he bought in 2009. Apparently successful: the team was promoted to the fourth division after a season, from where it moved up to the third division in 2013, the second in 2014 and the first division in 2016. And there he started the season very successfully, and at the end of it he reached second place behind Bayern.


All this was achieved by the fact that this team of Red Bull also received the label of “the most hated club” in the country, and in fact, they were surrounded by even greater dislike in Germany. As Origo reported in a great summary article, some of the Borussia Dortmund fans were outright unwilling to travel to Leipzig for a league clash and instead looked to IFI-Dortmund, because they believe that the philosophy of the RB Leipzig club is the opposite of what is accepted and customary in Germany for. One of the main organizers of the boycott justified all this with the following: “It is clear that Dortmund also generates money, but in order to invest it in football. In Leipzig they run the football team only to promote a product and a way of life.”

However, RB Leipzig does not necessarily fare better when fans of the rivals show up. Against the East German derby Dynamo Dresden, for example, it happened that the Dynamo ultras threw a severed bull head from the stand. And on the draperies they regularly send a message to the bulls, albeit sometimes with humor: Hoffenheim, which followed a somewhat similar path managed by businessman Dietmar Hopp (head of SAP), for example: “We want the throne of Germany's most hated team back!” Of particular interest is that the sister team Red Bull Salzburg is not spared either: when they last played Schalke in the Europa League in December, the fans of the latter club proclaimed on a large drapery: “Founded by comrades and miners”, contrasting the traditions of the royal blues with Salzburg's “newly-rich” status.

One of the main criticisms of RB Leipzig is that in the Bundesliga, the fans must have majority ownership of the clubs, as well as the right to vote, in the hands of at least 50 percent+1 votes. For this reason, tens of thousands of members are typical, while the people of Leipzig have only seventeen members, who are almost without exception employees of Red Bull or persons related to the company by any other thread.

At Red Bull, however, they argue that there have been many examples of the intertwining of brands and clubs in the past: Wolfsburg is backed by the Volkswagen team, Ingolstadt is supported by Audi, Leverkusen is backed by the pharmaceutical company Bayer, and the company that operates the Bayern Munich team also has 8.3 percent ownership each of the insurers Allianz, Audi and Adidas. For. In addition, there are positive signs after the attacks: according to a survey cited by Intelligent Research in Sponsoring Origo, RB Leipzig is already the third most popular club in Saxony after Bayern Munich and Dortmund. And in the East German region, they are particularly hungry for success, as they have not added a team from here to the Bundesliga apart from RB Leipzig since the elimination of Energie Cottbus in 2009. Moreover, the opinion among football clubs is growing that in order for the league to develop, even more space should be given to sponsors and capital, and the 50+1 rule that prevents this should be abolished.

No wonder Bayern legend Franz Beckenbauer himself says with some malice: “If Red Bull remains committed to Leipzig football in the long term, they could be serious challengers to Bayern in 35 years.” But Mateschitz, now 72, is much more optimistic than that: he has already given the players the task that he does not want to be eighty by the time RB Leipzig win the Bundesliga. To do this, “only” Bayern's rule would have to be broken, as the bulls have almost reached the top with the second place!


But back to football marketing: it's not just that Red Bull is present on three continents, North America, South America and Europe, but that these teams work together, the clubs build on each other. Talents from many parts of the world (mainly from South America, Central Eastern Europe and the Balkans, but also from Africa) can present themselves in Red Bull Salzburg, as can the current greatest Hungarian hope, 18-year-old Dominik Szoboszlai, and if they prove to be good enough, they can continue at RB Leipzig. Leipzig currently have several key players who have been confirmed from Salzburg, including the goalkeeper of the Hungarian national team, Péter Gulácsi, who by the way is an excellent, stable performance and is currently the team's number one goalkeeper.

However, another Hungarian also plays a big role in Red Bull's success. The former Hungarian national team member Zsolt Lőw first worked at Red Bull Salzburg as a substitute coach and then as the second coach of the first team. From there he moved to RB Leipzig in 2015, where as a second coach he played a major role in the promotion of the Leipzig team. The silver medallist and sixth-placed season was also on the sidelines and took an active part in the team's soaring. And the “most hated club” is not hated so much anymore. As Zsolt Lőw told the Index: Fifty people in Cologne can't be fooled by the fact that they sit in front of the bus. They are interested in good football. Let's not be hypocritical. In English football, clubs have grown out of thin air, as well as in Germany. Tradition is a beautiful thing, but a tradition cannot be created otherwise than by prior investment. How can football be without money? Would it be City, Chelsea, Wolfsburg? There will be new ones after us.”

Lőw seemed to have felt his destiny: he had become such an excellent professional during his years with the Red Bull teams that when German Thomas Tuchel took over the management of the wealthy Paris Saint-Germain at the beginning of the 2018-2019 season, he insisted on the signing of the Hungarian second coach. Zsolt Lőw, who has a contract with Lipsé, was finally paid one and a half million euros by the Paris team, which is a world record in international football: such an amount has never been given for a second coach before! And the Parisians play with even more stakes than Red Bull, confirming Neymar (222 million euros) and Mbappe (180 million euros), they have sent a message to the entire football world, and for them winning the Champions League is the only measure of success. In addition, unlike Red Bull, it is not marketing aspects that constitute goals beyond football, but rather a diplomatic demonstration of power by the Qatari owners. This is another proof of Ferenc Puskás's eternal saying: “Little money, little football, big money, big football.”

The story of RB Leipzig and Red Bull Salzburg was written by Máté Farkas and Árpád Papp-Váry in the 2018/4 issue of the Márkamonitor magazine.