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Mar 29, 2013

Six Business Lessons From Red Bull

Business Lessons From Red BullThe Red Bull Stratos mission which saw Felix Baumgartner jump room over 24 miles above the earth's surface on 14th October 2012, not only broke the world records for the highest jump from a capsule, the longest distance covered in freefall, and the maximum velocity achieved by any man in freefall, but was also the largest ever digital event on record. The mission raised the bar on how brands can activate sponsorships through social media. 

Some of the marketing milestones achieved include:

* Over 9 million YouTube live streams, the highest number in the history of the media sharing site. In total, over 30 million people have now viewed various videos related to the jump on Red Bull's official YouTube channel.

* Over 3.4 million tweets posted with jump related hashtags on the day of the jump. This catapulted almost half of twitter's global trending topics.

* Jump related posts on Red Bull Stratos official page generated close to 1 million interactions. These included over 80,000 shares. Moreover the Red Bull official Facebook page generated 750,000 interactions.

* The event was listed among the top ten most searched and most watched global events of the years 2012 on Google and YouTube respectively.

Nothing was left to chance during the event. The Red Bull media house that produces, distributes and published audiovisual, multimedia and print material from Red Bull entertainment, culture, and sports projects - is used to parsing out content that can be consumed by people in any way they like. Instead of paid media, the company relied on its social medial channels and websites in addition to third party media to ensure that the content was well distributed as well as encourage conversation in a well structured manner to stoke interest before the final day of the event, generated high quality live viewings of the jump which meant that conversations went on for a long time.

The main driver for the event's marketing and business success was the impressive management of the preceding media campaign. It is unlikely that other strategies would have achieved similar success. Red Bull's business strategy provided some of the best business lessons for everybody. Below are my top six:

Have a sense of purpose and embrace it

Not only did the Red Bull Stratos mission underline the company's authentic link to extreme innovation and sport, it also provided the brand's employees with a motivation greater than selling energy drinks. According to James Whitehead, a partner at JWT - the company that, in a clever market poly send a kit bar 23 miles into space as a celebration of the fearless Felix - people prefer brands that they can have a relation with. People want the brand to be involved with them and share everything with them. Brands therefore need to acquire a conscience and a sense of purpose that extends well beyond sales.

Don't look at everything in terms of ROI (return on investment)

Go for the emotional impact. Space exploration is among the few things that appeal to some of the noblest interests: a belief in the power of science and a desire for adventure. For a certain generation, Stratos is their "I was there moment." This creates benchmark that is almost unfair for other businesses.

While other companies are still hung up on the number of YouTube hits generated, the achievement of the Stratos mission reverberates well beyond the marketing fish bowl. Red Bull has in fact blocked a number of agencies involved in the mission from speaking to the press since they don't want anyone to view the event as a marketing stunt. While the rest of the industry is obsessed with media coverage, Red Bull focused on capturing the imagination of millions thereby earning the right to speak to its consumers.

A clear message was send out: to achieve greatness, a brand has to transcend ROI.

Embrace extreme marketing

Of course not every brand can have someone as fearless as Felix to deliver such moments of greatness. However, it is hard to ignore the change of pace in the market. In2008, Honda soared to the heights of coverage with its live skydiving advertisement. However, many are unlikely to remember this ad and it will probably never grace history pages for offering anything other than a Honda P.R. stunt. Red Bull has steadily built its credibility by supporting extreme sports, athletes, and sponsoring Red Bull racing, the 2012 F1 champions. The Brand has in effect, introduced the world to extreme marketing.

Move fans with big, consistent ideas.

Red Bulls gives you wings—this we know from years of over the line advertising by the brand. Even as far as "winged ideas" can go, it isn't everyday that the sound barrier is broken by a man in a space suit 23 miles in space. More importantly, not many brands give you the chance to view the event from close quarters. Apart from the Stratos mission, Red Bull have been involved in a number of ground breaking execution including stung skating, piloting, motor sports, snowboarding, skiing, and rapids excursions. By making something about your tribe you can't help but feel something for the brand.

Be like a newsroom

Instead of buying ads from third parties, the brand films, produces, and distributes events that are so newsworthy that publishers, TV station and newspapers run them as editorials. Red Bull can also use them as digital bait for building their own channels. For instance, in addition to a one hour live coverage of the event on Red Bull Stratos website, FaceBook page and YouTube channel, traditional television also broadcasted the jump. This included The Discovery Channel in The United States and over 70 other outlet around the world. The Telegraph, The BBC and a number of other media outlets were also allowed to stream a live feed of the event through their respective sites.

A clear message was send out: brand should be treated as media and high quality content is critical in this mix.

Relate event specific social skins, websites, etc.

With a pre-existing community of over 30 million followers across various Red Bull channels, The Company could have simply relied on this base to create the buzz, except it didn't. Instead, a Stratos specific website was created with lots of content and frequently updates to please all sorts of visitors. Additionally, Red Bull also created event specific accounts on Facebook, Google +, Twitter and Instagam.

Frequent updates were posted on these dedicated accounts while the main brand websites and social media pages continued posting the normal spectrum of Red Bull events and news. This multipronged approached introduced more people to Red Bull without necessarily polluting the brand's existing channels. Since each of these channels offers different opportunities, values and audiences, Red Bull tailored its content for each.

Conclusion

In thus day of slash and burn marketing where delays in making big decisions and reluctance to commit is the norm, it hard not to notice Red Bull's scope and investment. Not all businesses have the budget or inclination to invest in ideas bigger than themselves, but good marketer should a least have the ambition to make an attempt.

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