Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause

Hundreds of thousands of people participate on the same day, at the same time, all over the world, in the Red Bull Wings For Life World Run, the unparalleled worldwide sporting event and sponsorship activation

Hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world, united by the same cause, on the same day and at the same time, will one more year answer the call of Red Bull to participate in one of the most impressive sporting events on the planet, the Red Bull Wings For Life World Run ­– impressive on the level of social identification, brand image, organizational resources and sponsorship activation. Red Bull returns to give wings to all those who join its charitable cause and, under the motto “run for those who can’t”, and together continue to raise funds for the investigation of spinal cord injuries.

If there is a reference brand in the world of marketing and sport sponsorship worldwide, it is Red Bull. The Austrian energy drink multinational has a clearly defined brand image: it is the brand of those who dare, of adventurers, of those who are motivated by risk and adrenaline, and of those who do not conform and have no limits. Much less physical ones. Because Red Bull Wings for Life was born from a personal story of overcoming that moved the lord of the cans himself, the billionaire and founder of Red Bull, Dietrich Mateschitz.

His great friend and former motocross world champion, Heinz Kinigadner, was enjoying the MotoGP Grand Prix of Germany in 2003 when he received a call that would change his life: his son, Hannes, had just suffered a severe accident while participating, on behalf of his father, in a charity race in Austria. He was 19 years old. In the first moments as he was lying on a stretcher, Hannes overcame two cardiac arrests, a cerebral infarction and suffocation, but would remain prostrate for the rest of his life in a wheelchair, paralyzed from the neck down. There began his personal struggle and that of his father to seek resources that would help research on spinal cord injuries. Dietrich Mateschitz responded to the call of his friend to create the world famous Wings For Life Foundation.

The Red Bull Wings For Life World Run is one of the most impressive events of the Foundation, a race of epic proportions with the stamp of the brand. They could not organize a normal race, with a start and finish, but rather they invented a new way of racing: the one who manages to keep running the longest wins. The personal struggle of all those who are part of Wings For Life is a lifetime of overcoming and their most emblematic event should be true to that philosophy. The race organizers decided to give a nod to the founders of the brand, who are passionate about the motor racing world: using cars equipped with sensors, which they call Catcher Cars, to test the resistance of the participants.

In this fourth edition, the chosen date is May 7; the time, 11am (UTC); the locations, iconic cities in 24 countries around the world. More than 150,000 runners are expected to join the movement. Thirty minutes later the Catcher Cars will be launched at a speed of 15 km/h. The pace of the cars will increase as the race progresses to reach 35 km/h. Who will win, as always, is the participant who lasts the longest being chased and is the last to be reached by one of the cars.

Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause - Johan Cruyff Institute

For this event, Red Bull has several of its most illustrious ambassadors and sponsored athletes at the wheel of its cars, with well-known faces like: Formula One driver Carlos Sainz Jr; retired F1 champion  David Coulthard; Mexican footballer Rafa Márquez; stratospheric base jumper Felix Baumgartner; Olympic Alpine skiing medalist Henrik Kristoffersen; multidisciplinary athlete Reini Sampl, who is now trying his luck at rally driving after an accident in 1996 left him paralyzed, and who has also played wheelchair basketball and won three Olympic skiing gold medals; champion of the Volvo Ocean Race Adil Khalid; and the youngest Formula One promise, Max Verstappen. All of them, and others, have joined this worldwide sponsorship activation.

Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause - Johan Cruyff Institute

In 2014, and after two years of development and intense planning, the first edition of the event came to light. As Anita Gerhardter, CEO of Wings For Life, says: “It was from the beginning a great organizational challenge. We set up the race control point in Spielberg (Austria) with a team of timekeepers, technicians and communication experts, and then data, images and stories from around the world began to arrive. It was, and still is every year, really exciting. I remember it was especially moving when we saw the first participant in a wheelchair, Aaron Anderson, who covered more than 64 kilometers”.

Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause - Johan Cruyff Institute

Red Bull Wings For Lige World Run Operations center

Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause - Johan Cruyff Institute

Anita Gerhardter, CEO of Wings For Life

Red Bull seems to have no ceiling or competitor in the organization of sporting events. It is the company itself that sets challenges to overcome its own limits and with the Foundation they have done the same. Last year, they surpassed 130,000 registrations, runners from 203 different nationalities participated and ran 1,255,000 kilometers (which is 3.3 times the distance from the Earth to the Moon); €6.6 million was raised and was donated in full to research on spinal cord injuries, and 16,000 volunteers were mobilized. Another record and another example of the social identification that a brand like Red Bull gets through the world of sport: the oldest athlete was 99 years old and ran 2.3 kilometers before being reached.

Thousands of personal stories will once again give visibility to the race and to Red Bull in this year’s edition. The world will be dyed the colors of this iconic brand that keeps on giving wings to international sponsorship.


Johan Cruyff Institute Amsterdam uses a rich learning environment that fosters educational tools based on a student interaction model. We aim for a mix of students from sports and business sectors, which also enables students to share their unique experiences and learn from each other. Through ‘Cruyffian’ teaching methods the students will engage actively in creative challenges that require effort, commitment and intuitive thinking. Visit the web pages to find out more about these programs, which we deliver in English:

Red Bull gives the world wings for a charitable cause - Johan Cruyff Institute

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