Something pretty spectacular happened yesterday. Felix Baumgartner set the world record for the highest free fall, diving over 24 miles and landing safely on the surface of the earth. In the process, he broke the sound barrier with his own body and will now win any argument by default for the rest of his life: "yeah...well I jumped out of a space balloon..."
Behind all of this hype and inspiration was one name.
It most likely required a lot of money being pooled into research and development on Red Bull's part to even make an event like this possible. Include all the staff supported for this, all the equipment and whatever they paid Felix to be part of this stunt and the dollar signs grow. Was the investment worth it?
Yesterday, my Twitter and Facebook feed blew up talking about this epic jump. Bloggers talked about it (like I am right now). This morning while exercising in our gym, I noticed that every single maintstream news outlet covered the event. Over and over and over. In every news clip and sound bite you either heard Red Bull mentioned or saw their branding somewhere in the process. Nobody talked about energy drinks the last couple of days but everyone talked about Red Bull and Felix Baumgartner did together.
If you were to add up the air time Red Bull received (aka "earned media") and equate that to what similar ad space would cost on those mainstream networks, my guess is that their earned media total would far exceed what they spent on R&D.
Power In Positioning
Red Bull didn't just pull this idea out of some orifice. As a brand, they've been positioning themselves on extreme sports and out-of-the-ordinary athletes for years. A foundation for this type of effort has been built over the course of years. It made sense that Red Bull would be the company to support a stunt like this. If a company like Tropicana or Hanes did this exact thing and slapped their logo all over it, the brand value wouldn't have had near the impact Red Bull most likely saw.
Know Your Brand. Plan Accordingly
Of course not every brand should attempt a world record free fall (figuratively or literally). The thinking remains the same: what extraordinary thing could your company or brand do that draws attention and garners conversation? What could make you stand out from the crowd. This will look different for all brands. Nobody should try and be Red Bull.
How can you stand out? What do you (or could you do) that's different?
For some side fun, here's that same Stratos jump...done with Legos. Enjoy!