Felix Baumgartner is a professional faller. He has jumped off of nearly every mega-tall building he could find and lived to talk about it. His fans call his Fearless Felix for having leaped from the statue of Christ in Rio de Janiero, sky-dived across the English Channel and plunged into the abyss of a 635 foot deep cave.
For this adrenaline junkie, however, those amateur moves were not enough. His next stunt will be to drop from a helium balloon in the stratosphere 23 miles above Earth. Plummeting at 690 miles per hour, he will break the previously held speed record of 614 miles per hour, yet the most incredible part about this jump is that he will break the speed of sound!
A supersonic advertising campaign may be what any high energy product needs to boost sales. Red Bull is doing just that by financing Mr. Baumgartner’s freefall.
Red Bull’s aggressive advertising stems from the fact that the company is somewhat of a one trick pony unlike Coke or Pepsi, who have a much broader product base. Among the numerous extreme sports the energy company sponsors are windsurfing, snowboarding, cliff diving, kayaking, surfing, skating, Formula 1 racing and break dancing. The point of sponsoring these sports is to cultivate a link between the drink and “coolness,” which in turn, should raise brand power.
Sponsoring the first-ever airborne human to break the sound barrier could bring Red Bull some incredible bragging rights, along with untold publicity in the extreme sports world. However, the jump carries untested risks. Is Red Bull prepared to deal with the worst should something go awry? There are important, if not grave, questions to consider. I think that this event carries too much of a risk factor to confidently incorporate the feat into an advertising campaign. Then again, perhaps the risk itself will mandate that more time, energy, talent and resources go to ensure greater safety standards and the overall success of the stunt.
From a PR standpoint, is it a wise decision to put your company’s seal of approval on a feat so risky with so many unknown variables?