I challenge you to put forth a better case in naming THE brand leading the charge on branded content than Red Bull. They’ve been at it for a while, so its fair to say that they’ve got a head start; but as global brands wake up to a new era of content marketing, lessons from the irrefutable leader can be gleaned from the single campaign of Stratos, featuring a death-defying Felix Baumgautner.
On October 14th, 2012, Red Bull launched Felix into the air where he rose to 39km above the Earth’s surface. With one deep breath, he jumped from the stratosphere and plummeted to the ground at 1,342 km/hr, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without any form of engine power. Behind the camera, Red Bull Media House brought the entire event to a global audience in real-time through a multi-platform distribution network, delivering the most-watched live stream in history.
Do It Your Way -
The Stratos Team determined what the perfect conditions and location needed to be for the stunt. It was not influenced by where a physical audience would be (i.e. should Felix land in Times Square), what location was convenient to headquarters, etc. They waited until the weather was right, ensuring that risks of wind or storm interference were minimized. The physical goal of the mission was paramount in all decision making, which kept alignment of all supporting activities laser-focused.
Red Bull has long focused on extreme sports, many of which incorporate the attempt or act of flight. It is the right fit for the brand, a simple A to B to C relationship: Red Bull ‘gives you wings’, wings give you flight. When your team has a straight-forward litmus test asking ‘how does this program support our big ideal?’, you maintain a strategic alignment on the goal of every program.
Hedge Your Risks -
There is no doubt that Felix’s jump took on an inconceivable number of risks. Every layer of atmosphere presents a new set of challenges, every piece of equipment could change from a protective device to a substantial threat in a matter of milli-seconds. The planning and rehearsing, the attention to detail, no point was too small to ensure it was correct.
As a brand, Red Bull realizes that every campaign should add value. It is great to experiment, but experimental programs should be taken on with some expectation on outcome. You need to build insights by thinking strategically – what do I need this program to do for me and how should I build it in order to achieve that objective? By knowing what success looks like and how we believe we’ll get there, we can minimize risk of failure.
Quality over Quantity -
I speak for all of us when I say that I would prefer to watch the same Stratos jump 100 times than watch 100 different lesser attempts — and will also remember it long after the event has passed. The quality of the production gave us a multitude of camera-angles, layers, channels, and storylines with which to engage. Yes, this was a significant investment by Red Bull into a single ‘moment-in-time’ stunt, but the preparedness, planning and quality of stunt captured the world’s attention. I personally was quite amused when Horizons on BBC World News – developed independently by BBC World News and based on OgilvyEntertainment’s and DuPont’s original concept – was interrupted for live coverage of the stunt. This moment qualified as legitimate worldwide news!!
In 2012, Red Bull Media House shared that they produced approximately 600 hours of content. When you consider that YouTube’s latest stats boast seventy hours of content uploaded every minute, it makes 600 sound a bit low. When you select the right channels, ensure your content is desirable, inviting, and share-worthy, you reinforce the quality of the brand. It is not how much you say, it is how you say it.
If you’re lucky enough to be attending MIPTV this year, you can catch Felix and Alexander Koppel, Red Bull Media House CCO, in an exclusive MIPTV Media Mastermind Keynote on Tuesday April 9th at the Cannes Majestic Hotel. The session will also be available via MIPBlog’s YouTube channel for those who can’t make it in person.