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Christian’s favourite ad: Red Bull Stratos

I can think of a number of 20th century ads that played a huge role in shaping the industry. However, I have chosen to highlight a more contemporary campaign that simultaneously dropped my jaw and swept my feet away: The Red Bull Stratos project: a supersonic freefall from the edge of space. This 21st century campaign brought back the 20th century ‘Space Craze’ and had everyone’s eyes glued to their screens once again.

In contrast to their rather conformist TV-spots, where Red Bull gives cartoon characters wings, project Stratos was truly frontier-breaking. The socially mediated worldwide broadcast of the event sparked feelings reminiscent of when man first visited the moon. Felix Baumgartner played the role of Neil Armstrong, going where no man has gone before, and the iconic image of the white suit contrasting the darkness of space went iconic – in real-time.

Personally, I was unaware of the event until it skyrocketed to the top of Reddit and Facebook simultaneously. Without a doubt it started as boosted and sponsored content – but the live feed of the jump managed to go truly viral. It stands out in my mind as the first live event I witnessed purely through social media.

Pushing the final frontier

The Stratos campaign is, in my book, worthy of attention for at least three reasons. First of all it falls directly in line with the Red Bull brand personality of ‘doing instead of talking’. Secondly, the entire ordeal was a singular event, that Red Bull created from the bottom up. Instead of competing directly with other huge advertisers on popular sports teams and events, Red Bull invented an exclusive brand-hero in Felix Baumgartner.

Lastly, but perhaps most importantly, it pushed boundaries with the concept of what advertising really is. Arun Hozack, VP-marketing at Red Bull North America even said that it was “a scientific project, first and foremost”. 

Space is often called ‘the final frontier’, leaving us wondering where Red Bull can go next. No matter what, I hope that ideas like this will continue to push the boundaries of advertisement even further into the future.


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