Tuesday, 16 October 2012

The ultimate Sunday-for-Monday story…

Written by, Nick Woods.

“This is a case study for the ages. A global world-class event. And they're not paying for distribution @redbullstratos

A very well respected ad guy tweeted that on Sunday night just minutes before Felix jumped… someone should explain PR to him.

Because Red Bull have just shown the watching world, and the PR industry, how to do great consumer PR. That was it. On a Sunday night for just over four minutes. They created a story so good they didn’t need to pay media for distribution.  So compelling it qualified as news.  And conversation.  And it was 100% on-brand.

Felix Baumgartner’s jump from the edge of space was a story which was about a someone, not a product; a story which embodied a brand’s values; a story which was about a first, a brave innovation, about pushing human boundaries; a story which had international appeal (I had tweets from Puerto Rica to Qatar and Indonesia about it and clearly the US, UK and chunks of Europe were watching); and which had some key elements which define great contemporary creative: it was creative (never been done before), conversational (global trending status), had controversy (will he survive? should we be watching?) and involved multiple collaborations (it’s difficult to imagine just how many official bodies, authorities and partners must have been consulted and worked with).

And Red Bull played a blinder.

The practice jumps which acted as teasers, the ‘postponement due to high winds’ as the big final teaser which took it from x-sports fans to mainstream, the ground-breaking Youtube-as-media-partner platform (some reports of up to 8m people watching a live-stream), the visual branding, the ‘mission control’ (what exactly were they all doing?) and of course, the media production itself.

Producers of The X Factor will have watched wishing they too would one day be able to create something so highly scripted and yet seemingly organic. The detailed data, the one-small-step speech, the camera angles (which had all been meticulously tested on practice jumps), the cuts to family members, the live Twitter feed, the avuncular main man on the ground, the science story, the angels-will-carry-you element and the live conference afterwards with three questions from the watching millions. Ber-illiant.

The post-event films have been started by Lego and will undoubtedly flow all week and beyond; God knows how many fake Twitter and Facebook accounts there are. Does Red Bull mind?  Are they suing anyone for infringement of their intellectual property?  Are they b*llocks.  That’s the conversation. They know it and they are only too delighted to see the fans flamed by people taking their idea and playing with it.

I know it took years to make it happen.  I know it cost millions.  And I know Red Bull was ‘only’ a sponsor. But to paraphrase someone else who tweeted shortly afterwards: I pay 50p for a can of Coke so they can make Coke ads, I pay 70p for can of Red Bull so they can do really cool stuff like jump from the edge of space…

This was brand-as- Barnum, pulling crowds to the circus for the modern age.

Just incredible.

Brings a whole new meaning to ‘doing a Sunday-for-Monday’ story, huh…

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