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How do you market a man jumping from space?

Just yelling it in the street isn’t enough, apparently.

This iconic picture of Baumgartner landing was taken on an iPhone and is a picture of a television screen.
This iconic picture of Baumgartner landing was taken on an iPhone and is a picture of a television screen.
Image: Red Bull Stratos

THE STORY OF Felix Baumgartner is pretty well known at this stage.

Man jumps from balloon in space, nails the landing and becomes a household name. One highlight video has over 36 million views and the jump was watched live by over 8 million people in 130 countries.

The Red Bull Stratos mission was, quite obviously, funded by drinks company Red Bull. And, while some decried it merely as a publicity stunt, it was actually a massive feat of engineering, human endurance and marketing.

Yes, marketing.

(Red Bull/YouTube)

Because, unless you can get people to watch the event, then what’s the point in pumping millions into it?

But, you think, it’s a man jumping from space, surely it sells itself?

Not necessarily, says Tessa Barrera, who is now head of social media at UK firm Lexis, and was the global head of social media at Red Bull when Stratos was taking place.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie after her presentation at the DMX Dublin marketing conference, she said that the biggest challenge was the weather.

“Stratos was a very difficult challenge because we always knew it was going to be a great highlight clip, but to get people to watch the entire livestream and come on the journey with us was a big ask.

“We don’t know the date, there was a weather window and there was a lot of delays.

“We knew it was an event that people had to engage with, the problem was how.”

Spaceman

Of course, it is a man attempting to fall 24 miles back to earth safely. From a non-marketers point of view, it’s a slam-dunk product. But the reality was a lot more difficult.

“It would have been easy to market a highlight clip or just one bit that came from it.

“It’s a lot more difficult to get people to watch a two- or three-hour livestream when you don’t know when it is going to happen.”

Tessa and her team expected the YouTube livestream to attract around 300,000 viewers on the day. An email blast when it was go time proved extremely successful and over 20 times that figure were tuned in when the Austrian Baumgartner made his way to earth.

In the hours leading up to and after the dive, Red Bull Stratos accounted for seven per cent of all of the web’s conversations.

So, why did the Stratos campaign work so well? It was nothing revolutionary, says Barrera.

“The reason it was revolutionary is that we didn’t do anything that was that creative. We just followed every best practice you possibly could.

“I think a lot of people think of the best practices, then think about their sales goals.

But you have to think about people and how you get them to share.

“It was revolutionary in that we did everything right.”

Social is people

Marketing on social media has changed how businesses approach marketing, but the biggest mistake companies, Barrera says, is trying to sell products.

“So many people focus their digital on ‘oh, we have a sale, we should do a post or a tweet’. But you’re telling people what to do and people have ad blindness.

“It’s about getting people to talk about your product.”

Videos: TheJournal.ie/YouTube

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