The marketing mentality behind Felix Baumgartner’s skydive from the edge of space

This is a video of Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner becoming the first person to ever successfully break the sound barrier through skydiving – 128,000 feet above the ground:

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It’s an extraordinary feat, even for Baumgartner, whose previous stunts have included skydiving across the English Channel and performing the world’s lowest BASE jump ever.

But while the stunt is a rallying cry for science, it’s also proved to be a huge marketing opportunity – and not just for the expensive watch strapped to Baumgartner’s wrist.

Energy drink Red Bull has sponsored the entire event, from Baumgartner’s training all the way through the skydive  itself – complete with branding on the parachute.

It’s only the latest and greatest attempt by the multi-billion dollar energy drink company to align itself with more extreme and outrageous sporting events.

It’s also a patriotic move – both Red Bull and Baumgartner hail from Austria.

The company has sponsored major sporting events including air shows, extreme snowboarding, biking and skating. The Red Bull logo is routinely plastered on helicopters, planes, bikes and trucks. The company’s latest advertising campaign features high-quality photography of these extreme sports front and centre.

It’s nothing new to align a brand with extreme sporting events – it can be one of the most successful marketing techniques a company can use.

Mark Crowe, chief executive of the Australian Marketing Institute, says the key goal with such special events is to have alignment between the event, and the brand’s values.

“In the case of extreme events, then it needs to obviously be compatible and have synergy with the brand’s own personality.”

Given Red Bull’s slogan is “gives you wings”, aligning the brand with extreme sports and record attempts isn’t much of a problem.

But there are plenty of other reasons why a company would want to use this type of event. Virgin, for instance, regularly makes these types of stunts all the time with Richard Branson pulling the strings – he’s even raced across the English Channel via kitesurfing.

“Edgy brands will look towards things like extreme sports, but it can also be relevant to brands that are trying to cut through an audience or extending to another market,” Crowe says.

“It can also be a move for brands that are somehow seen as conservative, rightly or wrongly, and then they want to move away from that perception.”

However, there’s plenty to keep in mind. Crowe says given the uncontrollable nature of such events, a tragedy can adversely impact on the brand.

“The inability to control circumstances can result in a higher degree of uncertainty, and maybe more than some of these brands want to be associated with.”

“There’s also a higher level of risk. So like any good strategy, you have to make sure all the elements are aligned together.”


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