Felix Baumgartner jumped 12,000 feet from the edge of space; these ten words express the minimalism of Red Bull’s successful publicity stunt.
Felix’s jump from the stratosphere, over the New Mexican desert could have boiled his blood or knocked him unconscious from an uncontrolled spin during the fall, or killed him in a variety of ugly, PR-unfriendly ways.
It was audacious, scary and more importantly (for the scope of our website), successfully broke through both the clutter and cliché that comprise boring publicity stunts.
A few key reasons behind its success as the ultimate publicity stunt that the communications industry can learn from :
Cut to the Case
Red Bull is about action, risk-taking, boldness –you already know that Red Bull ‘gives you wings’. Red Bull’s campaigns are about the metaphorical wings that the beverage gives you – and making them a real thing.
From endorsement of extreme sports, to world-class pilots competing flying in a race around the world (Red Bull Air Race), the brand proposition remains intact, clear and loud.
Adrenaline is powered by caffeine, and caffeine comes from Red Bull – it’s that simple, and Red Bull hasn’t added juice, or health drinks, or even vitamin water to its portfolio.
Sponsoring Felix’s jump therefore was a clear message – ‘this is what we do’.
Knowing Your Media
There’s boring social media; “Like this if you support XYZ”.
And then there’s the wildfire-like word-of-mouth that can be sparked off with the right fuel. Red Bull provided the facts, and fans provided the fire.
A simple example – there was no self-congratulatory post, or any brand placement when Felix had landed; these were the exact words.
“Felix has landed successfully from his jump from the Stratosphere”. This received almost 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and over 29,000 shares – all within 40 minutes.
Do you see any “Powered by Red Bull”, or similarly overt messaging? Once triggered through Red Bull’s social media channels, Red Bull didn’t have to – it took a life of its own. It was “shareable” – i.e. delicious for the content-hungry web – and took over the world.
Even the Red Bull microsite reflects this, with a lot of fun interactive content.
No time was wasted on marketing buzzwords – there were no “unique”, “innovative”, “generation-next”. Which is why Red Bull may have, with one stunt, changed the future of marketing.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if they have a record month of sales. It was the lead story in newscasts, not just sportscasts, and they couldn’t have the story without mentioning Red Bull. And with the buzz afterward and the engagement online, some of the top people on Twitter with millions of followers spreading the word about Red Bull — that’s [value] that can’t be quantified.”
Ben Sturner, founder and CEO of Leverage Agency, a New York City-based sports, entertainment and media marketing company.
A lesson for Indian marketing which is still obsessed with cricket and celebrities – the first major brand to successfully go beyond these two platforms will create huge buzz, provided it stays fresh.
This is what went wrong with flash mobs – once the viral nature of flash mobs became established for India, every brand manager wanted one. Indian brands need to understand that there’s a difference between meeting marketing/sales targets and actually making a lasting impact.
Written by Kunal Anand for Image Management