With the Olympics still weeks away the medals haven’t been handed out, but there’s already one clear winner at this year’s Games: Red Bull.

The energy drink company sponsors several athletes who are competing at next month’s Sochi Olympics, including Canada’s Mark McMorris, a medal favourite in the extreme sport of slopestyle.

Red Bull

Red Bull sponsors a number of extreme-sports athletes who are also competing at the Sochi Olympic games. (CBC)

The connection to athletes and extreme sports is part of a sophisticated marketing scheme that has helped make Red Bull a dominant player in the energy drinks market. Instead of showcasing its product with traditional advertising, the company puts its marketing dollars into producing videos and sponsoring sporting events that appeal to youths, a key demographic for advertisers.

“What Red Bull has become is a media property that happens to sell a beverage as opposed to a beverage company who is really trying to invest in media to sell a beverage.” said Ron Tite, a marketing executive based in Toronto.

The approach isn’t without its risks. Seven people sponsored by Red Bull have been killed in extreme sport events the company sponsors.

Watch David Common’s report for The National on Red Bull’s marketing tactics in the video player at the top of this page.