By most definitions, content marketing is still pretty much straight marketing in its goals. The “targets” are still labeled customers, buyers, and audiences, but the fact that it involves organizational storytelling and communication engagement that likely resonates well beyond sales makes it an important point of integration in an organization’s communication efforts. Red Bull is a prime example. As Mashable tech writer James O’Brien put it, “Red Bull is a publishing empire that also happens to sell a beverage.”

I’m trying to write a book here, and Red Bull is making it really hard for me to stay focused. I just opened to do some research, and I found myself seven minutes into a video of snowboarder Pat Moore, watching him pull a front-side 360 off a three-story parking garage before being chased away by the building’s security crew. I even had to skip an “ad” for Microsoft OneDrive to get to the video “content” on Red Bull’s embedded YouTube channel. I can’t tell the video series from the advertising from the marketing from the public relations.

They’ve got fantastic photography, incredible videos, sharply written feature stories, and inspiring blogs by extreme athletes. Not only do they have the obligatory Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, YouTube, and Pinterest buttons, but the content is actually something I might want to share with my friends on these networks (or in my book-writing as with the picture of surfer Carissa Moore).

From a strategy standpoint though, the most interesting part is that there is no mention whatsoever of the Red Bull beverage product unless I seek it out. In the far upper-right corner of the Web page there are two small links for “products and company” and “shop.” That’s content marketing.

Red Bull's Website
Red Bull’s Web site is a prime example of content marketing strategy. How does the website help sell their energy drink? Is that the Web site’s main purpose?

Tom Kelleher on interpersonal communication in the Digital Age