Best of the Decade: Red Bull Stratos sends skydiver Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space for a record-breaking freefall

After more than two years of development, the brand realized its ultimate extreme stunt (and sold a lot of product)

Published On
Oct 14, 2012

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Best of the Decade

Energy drink Red Bull built its brand on extreme sports sponsorships and high octane stunts, the most daring of which was Red Bull Stratos. The ultimate expression of the company’s daredevil marketing strategy, it sent Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner to the edge of space so he could freefall from over 120,000 above the earth.

Years in the making, the risky idea kicked off in 2010, and after stops and starts, culminated in 2012 when Baumgartner finally made the leap and became the first man to break the sound barrier with his own body. The campaign became a pop culture event, capturing the attention of consumers and marketers alike, with many predicting it to be a big winner at Cannes—though ultimately, the brand opted not to enter the festival. Nevertheless, the effort likely served as inspiration for other daring real-time brand content initiatives in which a winning outcome isn’t a sure thing—we can't help but think that  Nike’s notable “Breaking 2" shares a similar spirit.

Though even AdAge noted that the effort might have been “overrated,” Stratos propelled the brand to Ad Age’s Marketer A-List in 2013 and, according to the brand, helped to sell a lot of product.

Original Story

Well, it finally happened. After many, many stops and starts, Red Bull's mission to send Austrian skydiver and daredevil Felix Baumgartner up to the edge of space, then get him to freefall from over 120,000 feet, was wrapped Sunday. Nothing catastrophic happened, and Mr. Baumgartner now boasts the world record for highest ever jump and freefall, and for becoming the first man ever to break the sound barrier with his own body.

Some other big numbers were posted as well. At peak, viewers were watching more than eight million concurrent livestreams of the mission, according to YouTube. While Dan Rayburn disputes the actual viewing numbers, it's safe to say that millions of people were watching, not only online but also on television, where Discovery Channel had a marathon viewing event.

Red Bull released this wrap video of Red Bull's historic stunt, along with a few pictures -- including one of a can of the beverage at 120,000 feet -- on its Facebook page. In other "historic moment" news, Toyota also deemed its Tundra Endeavour "mission accomplished," where the Tundra towed the 145-ton Endeavour space shuttle across the 405 freeway in Los Angeles.

If you need more, check out a recreation of the stunt, in LEGO and Kit Kat's homage to Felix.