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If you’re reading this you’re connected to the internet. If you’re connected to the internet you know Felix Baumgartner. In case you don’t, here is a quick recap of who he is and what he did. Felix jumped from a balloon-space-capsule 128,000 ft. above the earth, fell towards the ground at 833 MPH, opened a parachute and landed, alive.
This historic endeavor was brought to you by…Red Bull. Yes, the energy drink.
The significance, apart from the gigabytes of data on what happens when you turn a human into a rocket and break the sound barrier, was the marketing story.
This event generated reactions across the global scientific community, but it also stirred up discussion among media and advertising professionals.
• Was this a marketing stunt or a scientific endeavor?
• What was the ROI? And was it worth it?
• Could another brand pull this off?
• Does this solidify the idea that brands should become media companies?
Among the scientific accolades the event also took home a few media ‘First’ awards. One in particular was Most Live Viewers. The jump was streamed live via YouTube where over 8 million viewers tuned in to watch Felix plummet towards the Earth. The Olympics held the previous record for live digital viewership at 500K.
8 million people sat staring at a man, sitting in outer space, covered in Red Bull logos. If Red Bull had a live needle for ‘brand reach’ it too would have hit 800 MPH.
But all brands are not alike
Red Bull has worked carefully to build a brand that is exhilarating, competitive and smacks of daredevil. The brand’s product motto “Gives you wings” aligns with their support of things like Formula One, Global Rally Cross, Air Racing and the always-entertaining Flugtag, an event where DIY airplanes are launched off a ramp and into a river (most never actually fly).
Do automakers have a play here? Maybe.
Not only did this jump align with Red Bull’s brand message (relevancy), it also resonated with humanity, which drew a widespread audience (reach via amplification).
If Ford had forked over the millions of dollars for this endeavor and plastered Felix’s suit in blue ovals, the jump would’ve been just as successful and Ford would have received millions of positive brand impressions. But what about relevancy? Would Ford benefited in the same way Red Bull did given the differences in their brand message and product offering? Would Ford had been better off spending those millions of dollars elsewhere?
To be a successful content producer brands, automakers included, don’t need to find the perfect singular event that will draw 8 million live viewers. They just need the right people, the right rules and the right structure to produce a constant steam of high quality, relevant and shareable content.
Automakers have already done the heavy lifting, creating audiences. Many already have millions of fans on the various digital social platforms. Those fans are hungry for content and ready and willing to amplify-the-crap out of your content. You just need to serve what they’re asking for.
Right People, Right Rules, Right Structure
I have to admit, I was stuck on exactly how to tackle this question. Then I came across a post on Edleman Digital titled, Brands Will Become Media: Here’s How. The author, David Armano, lays out what a brand needs to do and look like to produce content that is high quality, timely and relevant.
The following graphic helps to envision what a brand’s media content hub might look like.
This will not be easy. Brands will need to sit down and have serious discussions to determine if a social-creative newsroom is right for them. They’ll need to examine the costs, challenges and most importantly the value.
But what do I know
I’ve never worked for a brand or an agency, much of this is conjecture on my part. I can say that as a brand-of-one, I’ve come to appreciate the value of real-time content. By mixing a bit of humor, a splash of newsjacking and a passionate message into a visual and easily shared piece of content I’ve had great results in growing my audience.
While it may work well for a brand-of-one, the question for larger brands is - can it scale while retaining value?
In other words will the investment in building a social-creative newsroom be worth it to brands.