RedBull achieved marketing nirvana last year when they sponsored Felix Baumgartner’s jump from a helium balloon in the stratosphere to become the first human to break the sound barrier without vehicular power.
This publicity stunt was the perfect marketing win-win. “Red Bull Stratos” captured the world’s attention and perfectly gelled with the positioning statement that “RedBull gives you wings”.
Many brands are jumping on the marketing stunt bandwagon to find their own Red Bull Stratos. Marketing stunts are nothing new of course, but there seem to be more of them than ever, which raises the bar on what will truly get attention.
This publicity stunt one-upmanship has also led to marketers using shock jock prank tactics, even if it jeopardizes the brand. Earlier this year, a Capital 8 Theater in Missouri promoted its premier of Iron Man 3 by hiring actors to dress as gunmen and storm the theater with fake weapons drawn. This was one year after the Aurora shooting.
Not all attention is good attention. Just because a stunt gets people talking doesn’t mean it’s necessarily the right fit for the brand.
In February, Nivea pulled a marketing stunt in Germany. To introduce its “Stress Protect” line of deodorants, they staged a prank at an airport, stressing out random people by making them think they were wanted criminals. They made special newspapers with the victim’s face and television alerts warning that he or she was extremely dangerous. Then the police came.
It’s funny, but in a kind of mean-spirited way. The tone doesn’t feel like Nivea to me. I get the connection to stress, but it seems like a stunt for the sake of pulling a stunt.
In the pursuit of getting attention, brands shouldn’t forget to stay true to themselves.
(Marketoonist Tuesday: I’m giving away a signed print of this week’s cartoon. Just share an insightful comment to this week’s post by 5:00 PST on Tuesday. Thanks!)