Blog: Andy MortonThe freefall gamble that earned Red Bull its wings

Andy Morton | 16 October 2012

Red Bull reached new heights on Sunday

Red Bull reached new heights on Sunday

It may not equal Felix Baumgartner's leap into the unknown on Sunday, but when Red Bull agreed to fund the extreme parachutist's attempt to freefall from near space, executives at the Austrian firm were taking their own big risk.

Space travel, even near-space travel, is expensive, and if Baumgartner had died in his attempt Red Bull could have been indelibly linked to the result. But the gamble paid off, perhaps better than anyone could have expected. 

The jump, which can be seen below, was yesterday called “perhaps the greatest marketing stunt of all time” in Forbes magazine and estimated to be worth “tens of millions of dollars of global exposure”. Eight million people online watched the moment Baumgartner stepped from his balloon 24 miles above the New Mexico desert and many more have seen the blanket media coverage. 

Of course, this is all in keeping with Red Bull's unique focus on extreme sports, as outlined in this Guardian article, from its high-profile sponsorship of a Formula One team to funding ex-ice hockey pros to race down mountains. None, though, have had the penetration of yesterday's planetary plunge.

So, well done, Red Bull. And well done, Felix Baumgartner. While Heineken and the Coca-Cola Co continue to spend millions on football and the Olympics, his one small step for man resulted in one giant leap for Austrian energy drinks.


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