Redbull Sends Marketing Doodad To Hackerspace Using An Open Source Product


Looks like Redbull is harnessing the power of open source hardware to market their product to hackers everywhere. We’d say that it worked because here we are, posting up some free advertising for them. It seems that a rep for the company dropped off a package at a hackerspace in LA called Null Space Labs. It came in what is obviously a laser cut wooden box, a material that tends to make hackers salivate. Inside they found the board you see above. It took a bit of time to look over the hardware was eventually identified as an Uzebox. Sure enough, then plugged in an original NES controller to the controller port on the back of the board and were playing a version of  Pac-man in no time.

Marketing and advertising have their place in our lives which can be annoying and intrusive at times. But we have no problem with it when done creatively and targeted to our interests. Good job Redbull, and might we add, that’s a heck of a routing path for your PCB outline!

39 thoughts on “Redbull Sends Marketing Doodad To Hackerspace Using An Open Source Product

  1. I was about to post what-ifs about looking through the source and ROM on this but decided to look at the first link. Good thing too, as HAD has pretty-much missed the point entirely with this post.

    The box has “A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma” etched onto it and when the board is plugged in as a via usb it contains an encrypted zip.

    Come on HAD, this is much more interesting that you’re making it out to be.

  2. Protip: Redbull did not put pacman on it. It was flashed to get rid of their shitty advertising thing. This was lame other than looking neat and giving us all bull driven hard-ons.

    If I had got there an hour earlier I would have asked them to buy us a case of Monster.


  3. @XiuiX: Compared to the cost of running the F1, MotoGP, Nascar and WRC teams and events all over the world, dropping someone a grand or two to do this must be like a drop in the ocean. Still appealing though.

  4. seriously it wasn’t that interesting or well planned out. Timeline was something like

    open box.
    pull off foam, see the website, go to website. (which apparently was the end goal)
    while some guys did that, it was obviously a video game, so i put it together to see what it was, pulled off the ROM over the ISP, plugged in the usb , grabbed the zip files, looked in the actual interesting files ( the resource forks, which had not much interesting expect the google gmail links to where the attachemnts had probably come from )

    then two other guys who weren’t even at the space decoded the base64 ( really? come on use a new technique ) and password.

    i threw the rom into IDA, but then when someone yelled out it said it was an uzebox i just stopped, since i made the mistake of thinking it was going to be something tasty.

    it was less than 30 minutes to do the whole thing, but the end game was about 10 seconds. if you want a challenging task go to defcon / toorcon or layerone and join in one of their competitions.

    it only took as long as 30 minutes because of a lack of motivation to get involved an obvious marketing campaign that we’ll see little to no real benefit in, and because we’ve all been there before with one of these companies.

    redbull used to do stuff with hackers but they told them, so long suckers, after it was saturated. This is just a new ploy to cash on on the new marking friendly term of ‘maker’, which is why i reckon that term was coined in the first place, because of the negative stereotyping of hacker.

  5. Umm…
    Am I the only one laughing at this cheap way to buy some nerds favor? How hard would it be for a multi-billion corp. to produce a simple gimmick like one pacman game in a wooden box?
    Don’t get me wrong – it’s beautiful. But don’t loose your pants over it.

  6. >Am I the only one laughing at this cheap way to buy some nerds favor?

    only if you fail in the reading department. seriously i though i was laying on the sarcasm pretty heavily.

    >Isn’t Bawls the drink of choice for geeks?

    Brawndo, its got electrolytes

    Clubmate/tschunk if you’re down with nick and strom

  7. I dunno, from what I’ve seen of Red Bull’s other marketing things, such as the the flugtag, is that they sound like good ideas but ultimately prove in reality to be profoundly superficial and shallow.

    When I see something like this, I think that it is kind of neat, but it fails to make me really more interested in the company. It is still essentially a marketing gimmick, and not really genuine; we might perhaps congratulate the random marketing man who came up with the idea on their creativity.

  8. First I’d like to say that this is a nice, but cheesy attempt to get ‘Hackers, Makers, etc..’ interested in RedBull.

    Next I’d like to add F**K Red Bull. If you visit the site it explains a contest– where they will take your idea and permanently own it, royalty free. They can also share it, sell it, etc and use your name, face, likeness… which they can also sell/give to 3rd party companies. It’s all in the T&C on their site.

    All in all, kudos for getting our attention, but your lame attempt at 4chan humor and pathetic attempt at making this challenging just end with my continued hatred for marketing campaigns.

  9. This thread is suspiciously free of “spelling error”, “this is not a hack”, etc. posts. All the comments are obviously bought by Red Bull corp.

    “U CAN HAS RICKROLL?!?!” Sweet mercy… Is cringeworthiness big in advertisement business those days?

  10. I think something that is lost on most of you is that marketing is constantly evolving. Although it may be superficial , not cost millions, and have come with some lame advertising , the simple fact is other companies are seeing this. They could have taken a much more self centered approach, and I think its important to notice what they did that was cool so they and other companies make more efforts to give back. Dont think on such a short time scale. See the big picture that other companies will see this and act on it as well.

    I think we will start seeing allot more MAJOR companies extending them selves to the community. Bad mouthing redbull for this seems to detract from this.

  11. “I think something that is lost on most of you is that marketing is constantly evolving”

    That is frankly bollocks, marketing rarely evolves its the old turn on the TV see what everyone else is doing and follow that. How many ‘hackerspace’ challenges are currently running by companies eager to profit from another media friendly outlet that hasn’t been swamped? Go to New York and do a scavenger hunt / build something in a few days ? How Original, what marketing genius came up with that idea ? Fabulous Prizes to be won!

    It is nothing new, and it is a poor implementation of stuff thats been done a 100 times before, and by redbull at that. The uzebox is cool, go get one of those, hack that and turn it into something better. Make something that doesn’t require corporate sponsorship.

    If companies wanted to be all generous or something, then just donate test equipment /soldering irons /pay rent for a new space for a year etc and help them get off the ground. Net worth of redbull guys is $4 billion, formula one costs a fortune, this is nothing.

    It’ll never happen because its purely just capitalism, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with companies making money, that is what they’re supposed to do , but thats all it is. Don’t fall for it.

  12. Social media, crowd sourcing , Interaction between companies and …. us . This is evolving even if you would prefer not to recognize it. Bad marketing has been around for ages. Companies made their product counter intuitive and difficult to use to drive user loyalty. But thats even changing and being driven by big business in some places. Open source in others, and combination’s of the two (nasa for instance)

    The thing i will stress again is we need to be cup half full people or this like many other failed marketing will be dubbed a failure and not evolve.

  13. I think this generated a fair amount of the correct feedback.

    It was a neat-o gee-whiz thing that Red Bull still happens to have employees that know a little bit about makers.

    On the other hand, it’s not worth getting TOO excited about… it’s just a custom Uzebox. Any reasonably intuitive marketer would know this just as they know hot chicks sell beer. (Although the makers would be the equivalent of craft beer snobs who don’t give a shit about hype).

    If Red Bull or Mountain Dew, etc. want some free advertising -and- have it be much more positive, then yeah it makes more sense if they sponsor some workshop.

    I don’t see evidence of astroturfing here as Mlöck suggests. Lack of grammar+spelling errors is not conclusive. Marketers can -easily- emulate the “too busy to use punctuation or the shift key” style of Phil Torrone’s writing. :-)

  14. Marketing != Advertising

    Advertising is a capitalist concept: information about available products/services.

    Marketing is a consumerist concept: relying on the fickleness and gullibility of the consumer to allow the marketing “guru” to “create the need”. Vile! Sheeple (marketing term) LOVE it!!!

  15. we got one of these boxes at TechShop today.. no-one has started soldering on it yet, but it does have the ICSP header for the atmega in the package. looks like they intended for us to reflash the uzebox and do something useful with the board after figuring out the invite, which isn’t much of a challenge after AlphaOne posted about peeling the foam

    also a bunch of PIC micros and dsPICs and such on there; the nyc resistor guys apparently found spectrograms and stuff. we’re going to waste some time on it tomorrow.


  16. Really… I can’t imagine why so few manufacturers support hackers, what with all the warm reception. Quit flaming them already you bunch of fairies. It was a hackable and very creative gift. How can you expect any other companies to do cool stuff with us in mind if you’re going to throw their attempts back in their faces. “Oh, its marketing!!” No shit, if they didn’t profit there wouldn’t be a company to make the effort. And yeah, we all know Red Bull tastes kinda like diet ass, but maybe giving them constructive feedback we might get a flavor of our own.

    Food for thought, not for trolls.

  17. I have thought that manufacturers avoid supporting ‘hackers’ because.. well.. the Maker movement itself is a revolt against modern manufacturing, with it’s non-repairable black box design.

    (And the disposable nature of things will not change until the cost of recycling goods becomes built into the purchase cost.)

    Red Bull is getting the response they fully deserve: mixed. Trying to tilt the average by being their cheerleader isn’t going to change anything.

    Most of the makers I know avoid HFCS crappy syrup drinks. Want a caffeine buzz? Drink coffee or a double black coffee stout beer.

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