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Bold Yet Invisible Branding Move by Red Bull

October 16th, 2012

Some brands are tough (UFC) while others are safe (American Express and Volvo) or universal (like Nike, Coca Cola and Apple).

Not Red Bull.

On Sunday they took branding literally to a new stratosphere by sponsoring Felix Baumgartner’s record-setting 120,000-plus feet skydive. Doing the quick math, that is approximately 24 miles from the edge of earth.  Admittedly, I am not a rocket scientist but know a lot can happen from that altitude yet the company that makes “the energy drink that gives you wings,” made an audacious marketing move.

Red Bull not only bankrolled the Red Bull Stratos program but also made the gutsy decision to live-stream the stunt for everyone to see. The broadcast on YouTube had a record-setting 8 million concurrent views and was shared almost 700,000 times in just a few hours.  As of today, this video recap of the spectacle was viewed nearly seven million times.

Had something gone wrong, people would be talking differently about Red Bull yesterday. The investment paid huge dividends to Red Bull and its brand, and not because it overtly promoted the historic milestone through the typical channels. To the contrary.

According to AdWeek’s “Red Bull Triumphs With Baumgartner Jump by Getting Out of the Way,” Tim Nudd explained that the brand was ubiquitous and invisible at the same time.

Citing Nudd’s article, Red Bull posted “Just three photos on Facebook over the weekend – a product shot taken at 120,000 feet (caption: ‘Anyone doubt that Red Bull Gives You Wings?’), which you can hardly blame them for; a link to live coverage of the jump; and an instantly iconic photo – actually, a video screen grab – of a victorious Baumgartner having landed safety in the desert in his Red Bull colors. That showed remarkable restraint, wisely ceding the spotlight to the man, not the brand.”

The success of Red Bull Stratos and their flawless execution has taken the brand to new heights.  That was bold thinking, especially in today’s marketing world where the desire for every branding campaign is to “serendipitously” go viral.

Kudos to Red Bull, Baumgartner and the entire Red Bull Stratos team. You earned your marketing wings on Sunday!

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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