Red Bull athlete Felix Baumgartner jumps from the edge of space, as captured by GoPro.
Click the image above for 8 minutes of white knuckled inspiration.
Red Bull and GoPro. These days, It’s almost impossible to watch documentation of a human achievement that doesn’t include one or both of these brands – and that’s a good thing. Say what you will about the brands, but realize they have both established a very impressive trajectory from which we all stand to benefit.
Marketing comes in many flavors. Some brands employ wonderful storytelling techniques, while most just create noise. We are surrounded by noise, more so than ever before. In this climate, a well crafted tale bathed in authenticity will always rise to the top. Authenticity is a tricky and often misinterpreted word. Don’t confuse authenticity with accessibility. Example – Will most of us ever have the opportunity to rise 24 miles above the earth and parachute to safety, breaking the sound barrier with our own body? No. Was this accomplishment, brought to us with live streaming coverage and a shell of logos authentic? Absolutely. The difference lies in the spirit of the effort.
Consider the aim and message of most product marketing – Buy this / Buy more of this / You’re failing if you don’t buy this / Here’s why our widget is better than their widget / All of your friends are buying this…
Now look at the Red Bull / GoPro model – There are some amazing people on this planet doing amazing things and we will support them in any way we can. Sure we’ll make use of some strategic logo placement, because that just makes sense, but our aim to encourage people. If we happen to sell some product along the way, then that’s a nice bonus. Now go out there and inspire us!
Ok, before you accuse me of drinking the Kool-Aid or being a fanboy, some background and full disclosure. I don’t own a GoPro, nor do I choose to drink Red Bull. My impressions come from honest experience. I’ve had the good fortune to work on productions for both of these companies and am continually impressed. Employees at all levels want nothing more than to see people succeed. At no point was it ever requested to place the product in a scene “just so” or to work the brand name into dialogue. Their only requests were for authentic adventure. This is where the benefit begins.
How many brands out there offer benefits outside of their posted “product attributes”? No billboard or store display has ever done much to advance human achievement. On the flip side, the data provided by the Red Bull Stratos project will push scientific research to new levels. Sure, the project and all of it’s lead up was wrapped in Red Bull logos, with much of the final footage brought to us courtesy of GoPro. But the difference lies in the delivery. Both companies have answered to a call, which I believe will mark change in marketing (and hopefully in turn, the actions of our society) as we know it – Don’t tell me how cool you are, show me. If this were simply an effort to sell product, Felix Baumgartner would have spent a day in a studio standing in front of a green screen. A few months later, after some expensive CGI work and the addition of a catchy song, a commercial would have rolled out, along with all the others, soon to be forgotten and not doing much more than maybe causing a small bump in sales. But this was not the case. Instead, millions of dollars in corporate and private funding set a team of elite scientists and one daring athlete on a course to advance research, fill a gap in our current space program and inspire scores of people to dream big. Sure, they stuck some logos on it, but I think they reserved the right to do that.
So, why the sermon? Why the rambling? What do the marketing efforts of two companies have to do with any of us? My hope is that it makes you think a bit. Think about your choices and activities. Think about why you make one decision over another. Think about why we as a society have become so cynical, trying to discredit anything that is too big or seemingly beyond us. Consider the stories to which you are drawn. What is the real message and in the end, who stands to benefit?