On October 16, 2012, millions of viewers across the world watched a daredevil plummet to earth. Felix Baumgartner, a professional stuntman, successfully became the first person to break the sound barrier without the use of a plane.
It was an awe-inspiring event. Eight million people watched the live broadcast on YouTube. Perhaps they were hoping to experience the thrill of the first moon landing, which held the attention of 600 million viewers worldwide. Man in space has always been captivating.
Those who orchestrated the mission claim that its purpose was to “transcend human limits.” The data gathered from the mission was shared with the space program in order to contribute to scientific advancements.
There was another purpose to the mission, though quieter and harder to spot. It appears on the homepage of the mission’s website, buried beneath a pile of videos and information.
If you hold a microscope to the screen, you can see it: the Red Bull logo. The mission itself was called “Red Bull Stratos.” The daredevil who performed the mission, Felix Baumgartner, had been doing stunts with Red Bull since 1988. Red Bull Stratos, with its 8 million viewers, was the largest stunt yet.
Though some have criticized Red Bull Stratos for not making the best use of its captive audience, there is something to be said for Red Bull’s self-restraint during the event. Red Bull didn’t need to shove its product down viewers’ throats; instead, they utilized the power of association. By having their logo and branding present during a major stunt like this, they become linked with excitement, adventure, and success in viewers’ minds, even at the subconscious level.
GoPro got in on the action as well. Seven of their cameras were used to document Baumgartner’s fall to earth. Their video ad from the event includes footage of the original mission to break the sound barrier by plane back in 1960, as well as footage of the fall from Baumgartner’s perspective. GoPro’s ad harnesses the magnitude of history and space, implying to viewers “you can be like Felix Baumgartner and Neil Armstrong, and we can help.”
In video advertising, using the power of association in this way can be more powerful than any copy you’ll write. Choosing visuals that convey bravery, beauty, confidence, or wealth will help you market your product to those who wish to possess these traits. Like Red Bull and GoPro are synonymous with courage, and Marlboros are synonymous with manliness, your product can become the embodiment of a trait your audience desires. This requires knowing your audience, what they want, and how your product can help them get there. There is no need to send a man to space (though it certainly does help).
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