When someone jumps from the edge of space back to earth and it's all supported by one brand, you know you are staring at a winner.
True story: Well over seven years ago, my agency (Twist Image) had the opportunity to pitch some Red Bull business. We laid out a big and bold plan that was under the umbrella of trying to put a Red Bull into every hand. Being a full-service digital marketing agency, we were looking beyond the two core brand personalities of the time. The first one was their quirky animated commercials ("Red Bull gives you wiiiiiinnnnggggsss!"). The second brand personality was the fact that the brand was not to be touched by consumers (beyond the beverage).
There were no Red Bull stickers or posters or T-shirts or hats. Red Bull held the logo sacred and only allowed the athletes that they sponsored to bear the infamous brand. We created a vision of an online channel/community (video, audio, blogs and more) that would extend the Red Bull brand into a media entity. They were already skimming in the ocean of leveraging content coupled with social media, but they had yet to deep dive into it. Our idea never took hold, but since then the brand has shifted gears and have turned their business into a true 360 degree experience. They are not just sponsors of sporting events and athletes, but have helped to bring high adrenaline activities into the zeitgeist... on their own channel.
Putting the world record aside.
Felix Baumgartner's supersonic freefall from 120,000 feet not only broke the speed of sound and a world record to go along with it, it practically broke YouTube as millions upon millions of people watched the drop from space online. And with that event, Red Bull also captured the hearts and minds of marketers all over the world. This was more than sponsoring a human being with a unique dream, and it had a lot more muscle to it than the PR play that happened in the build-up to the event (and post landing). What Red Bull truly demonstrated is the power of a fully integrated marketing plan. One that takes the consumer from the cradle to the grave. This isn't about how YouTube delivered an experience that would only be reported on by traditional television after the fact, but how the engines of all media -- when done properly -- can produce a perfect storm.
Most brands are not Red Bull.
It's true. The majority of brands are not an energy drink. The majority of brands may not have that cool factor. The majority of brands probably don't have the budget or know-how to even invent a stunt like that and turn it into such a powerful engine of marketing. That being said, all brands can grab the framework of what Red Bull did (and continues to do) and develop their own, fully-integrated plan of attack. Red Bull provides an amazing case study because the brand moved beyond traditional advertising, beyond content advertising and beyond social media marketing into a realm where consumers could simply touch brand (or, at the very least, hear about the brand) on their own terms.
What Red Bull does. What you can do...
In a world where case studies are few and far between, dig deep into Red Bull and you'll see something else (beyond Felix Baumgartner) that is out of this world.
Mitch Joel is president of Twist Image -- an award-winning digital marketing agency. His first book, Six Pixels of Separation, named after his highly-successful blog and podcast of the same name is a business and marketing bestseller. His next book, CTRL ALT DEL, will be published in Spring 2013.
Follow Mitch Joel on Twitter: www.twitter.com/mitchjoel