• Opinion16-595x395
Events

Opinion: Do we really buy into big brands' PR stunts?

Posted by James Cartwright,

In the third of our new Opinion pieces editorial assistant James Cartwright wonders what a skydiving Austrian has to do with sugary liquids and as always we want YOUR comments too, you can join the debate under the text…

On Sunday evening millions of people across the world tuned in to 40 networks across 50 countries to watch an Austrian man leap from beneath a helium balloon that drifted in the stratosphere. As he plummeted towards earth, breaking the sound barrier on his way, we all held our breath and willed his safe return to solid ground. At no point while witnessing this potentially lethal stunt did I crave the taste of a caffeine-rich soft drink.

International daredevil Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull have been collaborating on similarly death-defying stunts for the past 15 years, putting the 43-year-old in increasingly dangerous situations in the name of promoting Red Bull’s brand values. Previous stunts have included record-breaking BASE jumps from a number of the world’s tallest buildings and the first ever skydive across the English Channel – all impressive achievements in their own right, but what exactly does Red Bull get out of them?

The soft-drink giant is estimated to have invested $50M into the Stratos project, divided up between state-of-the-art equipment and a team of aeronautical experts. There’s no way to quantify the return they’ll have received on that investment, though given their global prevalence it won’t take much to cover their costs.

As an exercise in promoting brand values, Stratos makes Red Bull’s core beliefs abundantly clear; take risks, push boundaries and always be the first to try something new. But what if it had all gone wrong? What would the death of a skydiver mean for Red Bull’s sales? For a brief moment during Baumgartner’s fall it looked very much like he might not make it – a prolonged shot of his mother’s terrified face confirmed that all was not going according to plan. Had he perished, the shower of publicity surrounding Stratos and Red Bull could have been financially devastating to the brand.

But does that really matter in the long-run? Do brands like Red Bull really take a hit if they fail to pull off grand PR stunts or do they simply reap the benefits when they get it right? Do activities like these really serve to improve the perception of a company as large as Red Bull? And, most importantly, is it really acceptable to risk a man’s life in the name of shifting extra units of a fluorescent liquid stimulant?

comments powered by Disqus
Jc

Posted by James Cartwright

James started out as an intern in 2011 and is now one of our two editors. He oversees Printed Pages magazine and content wise has a special interest in graphic design and illustration. He also runs our online shop Company of Parrots and is a regular on our Studio Audience podcast.

Most Recent: Events View Archive

  1. Pmu-int-main

    People in the graphic arts world have got an infernal problem with Pick Me Up. It’s the Taylor Swift of illustration events: everyone claims they’re not into it but when it comes on the radio they know all the words and are happily singing along. My opinion on it has undulated for years, but going to the private view last night made me realise that all this time I doubted it and listened sceptically to the rumours surrounding it, I was totally wrong.

  2. Elcaf-int-list

    The East London Comics and Arts Festival (ELCAF) has just announced its 2015 dates, and after the storming success of last year this year it’s doubling up! Not only is the one day extravaganza growing to fill a full weekend across 20 and 21 June, but it’s also going to be filling two different venues with its trademark workshops and talks, and a new series of masterclasses held in collaboration with the House of Illustration.

  3. Offset-2-int-list

    Dublin’s terrific creative festival OFFSET is back this weekend and having now confirmed the full line-up, 2105 looks set to be another cracking three days of creative inspiration.

  4. Iam2015-bluebaby-cover-list

    We’ve long trumpeted the exciting, eclectic creative scene in Barcelona and now a new event talking place in March will harness this energy with an array of international speakers. The Internet Age Media, or IAM Weekend, promises to connect “the ecosystem that is shaping the future of design, fashion, technology, visual arts and music, from a media perspective.”

  5. List

    Dublin’s OFFSET festival is undoubtedly one of the highlights of the creative conference calendar, and early indications suggest that 2015 is all set to be another cracker (or craic-er, if you will). For three days in March the Irish capital is taken over by a brilliant line-up of art and design speakers (and a fair bit of socialising) and we’re looking forward to going back this year for another hefty dose of inspiration and enlightenment.

  6. List

    When we post work on It’s Nice That we don’t really know what that can lead to, but it’s always terrific to hear that creative collaborations have sprung from an article on the site. It’s even more terrific to hear of a coming together like this between Wild Beasts and animator and illustrator Mattis Dovier as part of The Jameson Works.

  7. List

    Last month we held an evening of talks at Mother London to showcase some of our favourite creative projects made possible through crowdfunding site Kickstarter. Since it launched in 2009, it’s no exaggeration to say the organisation has changed the way the creative world works and it was great to hear from some of those who had made the most of the new opportunities Kickstarter offers.

  8. Main1

    Just over a week ago It’s Nice That’s Jamie McIntyre and I took a train from London to Glasgow to the much-antiticipated Graphic Design Festival Scotland. We had been invited by Beth Wilson and James Gilchrist, two students who had recently graduated from Edinburgh College of Art. During their degree the two had found themselves working best when together, and decided to form Warriors Studio as a duo. They began thinking about the climate of graphic design in Scotland, the need for something new and exciting and – most importantly – what the hell they were going to do when term ends and they were turfed out to fend for themselves.

  9. List

    The House of Peroni is back and as bold as ever, this time celebrating the dizzying cultural diversity of Rome, the birth place of Peroni Nastro Azzurro. Combining the worlds of food, drink, design and film, contemporary Rome has been brought to London for one month only via a transformed townhouse; a four-storey exploration of how Rome’s rich heritage is being interpreted by a new wave of creative talent in Italy.

  10. Kickstarter_list_image

    Few things fundamentally change the way the creative world works, which makes the rise and rise of crowdfunding site Kickstarter all the more remarkable. Now five years in, it’s one of those brands that’s become a verb and “to Kickstarter” is an increasingly common way of launching a project.

  11. List

    Back in the spring, The House of Peroni took over a central London townhouse with a celebration of the retro 1960s inspired creativity which so influenced Peroni’s founders. Next month it’s back and this time around it will be a feast of food, drink, art, design and fashion that reflects the cultural diversity of Rome.

  12. List

    As one of the most fundamental visual tools, creatives use colour in a multitude of ways. It’s Nice That is excited to be partnering with G . F Smith for three evenings exploring how an eclectic mix of visual practitioners think about colour and harness its power. They will take place across the UK and each evening will also feature an exclusive screening of the Colorplan film Bright Red. The exciting line-ups we have helped curate for the events are:

  13. List

    An elegant townhouse in central London has been transformed into a multi-storey, multi-sensory celebration of Italian style and culture. The House of Peroni, which opened last night, boasts a host of retro-inspired creativity – inspired by 1963, the year Peroni Nastro Azzurro was launched – and it brings to life a stylised version of la dolce vita.