Like most good ideas, “The idea for the The Red Bulletin was conceived at 2:30 in the morning in a mountain hut in the Austrian Alps near Salzburg,” writes Dietrich Mateschitz, the CEO of Red Bull, in a letter to the reader on the fifth page of The Red Bulletin. The Bulletin is apparently a magazine by Red Bull, the energy drink, distributed in this week’s Sunday Times, and likely again in another Times next month. (Previous issues have been distributed in The Independent.) It features mostly cliff divers, cyclists, and other dare-devils you probably haven’t heard of, as well as, apropos of nothing, a fawning biography on Michael Bloomberg. (“Surprisingly, Bloomberg didn’t spend the years after his Wall Street windfall sipping cocktails on a yacht.”)
The magazine’s editorial mission, outside of advertising Red Bull, is sort of unclear: “To feature stories about this world and its inhabitants,” writes Mateschitz. But more unclear is its relationship to the Times: A large banner on the cover of the magazine reads, “Distributed in the US in the The New York Times,” but in finer print, “This Magazine did not involve the staff of the New York Times.” According to the Bulletin’s website, “630,000 copies of the magazine will be inserted into the New York Times on June 13.”
Throughout the publication — which is actually about double the length of the Times Magazine next to it — an icon reads “Experience Print 2.0,” referring to the Bulletin’s interactive online edition. (The whole thing can be read in a PDF, too.) But when an ad from the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the first page of a magazine that’s already an advertisement for an energy drink itself, all inserted into a newspaper, this seems more like Advertising 2.0.