Something I tell my clients, in so many words, is if you’re going to become that disruptive influence, it’s GOT to have a worthy purpose behind it – not just something designed to get attention. People can be fickle and will see right through a gimmick. Yes, you want exposure, but better still – you want to build lasting – and memorable – attention.

Take Austrian daredevil sponsored by energy drink maker Red Bull. It was huge in scope and spectacle, but really, its whole purpose was the pursuit of science. And you might say that Baumgartner and Red Bull both literally went “above and beyond”. In fact, all the way to the stratosphere. No really, Red Bull sponsored a man falling from near the edge of space. I’m still in awe every time I watch the video. There are PR stunts, but Red Bull took theirs to a whole new level.

So how awesome is this – Red Bull Stratos was a project that aimed to surpass human limits and advance scientific discoveries for the benefit of humankind. To do it, they helped Baumgartner do what no human had ever done – freefall from the stratosphere.

Here’s some of the amazing highlights:

  • Baumgartner rode in a massive helium balloon to a height of about 39 kilometers or 128,000 feet above New Mexico.
  • Donned in a specialized pressure suit (he was so high up there’s almost no oxygen) Baumgartner jumped out of the balloon.
  • For four minutes and 19 seconds, Baumgartner fell from the sky (what do you think about in that time, I wonder?)
  • Once he deployed his parachute (did I mention he had a parachute?) he continued to descend for about another six minutes before touching down on earth once again.

And with that, Baumgartner achieved three world records:

  • An exit altitude of 24.2145 miles (he jumped from that high up)
  • A maximum vertical speed of 843.6 mph (OMG, that’s faster than sound)
  • And a vertical distance of freefall of 119,431 feet (long way down doesn’t begin to cover it)

But this stunt wasn’t just an attempt for some exposure for Red Bull.

Sure, they got plenty of it – 8 million people watched it live – but the driving factor was far more altruistic than getting attention.

Red Bull was helping further our scientific knowledge on several fronts: the feasibility of high-altitude bailouts for commercial space flight, high-performance, high-altitude parachute systems, and most importantly, how breaking the sound barrier affected the human body.

Sure, they “dove” into spectacle, but “landed” on specific, measurable purpose. Still, it gained them tens of millions in earned media dollars and sales saw a 7% increase in the first 6 months following the event.

But without that purpose, Red Bull would have had just a mere curiosity – and one soon forgotten.

Red Bull gives you wings—that is one PR Stunt that proved it. Well done.

Like any PR decision, yours needs to have purpose as well.


Need a PR stunt? Sign up to talk to me—I am busy, but I looooooove me some PR stunts.