We usually write about design-related topics, due to the fact that it's what fills our days (And nights. And dreams. And nightmares.) but sometimes we just have to post about something we think is really cool... and Red Bull Stratos is one of those things. If you're actually using the internet and reading this blog we shouldn't have to explain what Red Bull is to you, but you probably haven't heard of Stratos. Red Bull sponsors a lot of athletes, most of whom participate in what would commonly be described as extreme sports, though as the drink has become more mainstream, so have some of their sponsorships. They also, however, have started creating events for their athletes and the general public to help promote their brand and general outlook on life (being awesome). FlugTag involves teams running home-made "flying" machines off a pier and into the water... though hopefully with a bit of lift slowing the descent. Red Bull Stratos isn't open to the public, but is instead a project involving Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner skydiving FROM SPACE.
Sounds intense right? That's because it is. Tomorrow morning (Tuesday October 9th), Baumgartner will be taking a 3 hour hot air balloon trip into the distant reaches of the Earth's atmosphere... 23 miles above the ground. After that, he jumps.
The jump will break a few records, and hopefully not Baumgartner himself. The distance of 23 miles (roughly 120,000 ft.) up will easily be the longest ever made - the previous record was set in 1960 by Joe Kittinger at about 19 miles, arguably the first man in space. Not long after he leaves the "safety" of his balloon, Baumgartner will most likely accelerate past the speed of sound due to the thin air at such heights, being the the first person to do so in a free fall. (Kittinger reached the speed of sound in his jump, a feat that hasn't been beaten since.) In fact every aspect of his trip is a record: his ride up will be the highest manned balloon flight ever, and on his trip down the nearly 6 minutes in freefall will be the longest ever. For some perspective, a normal skydiver will jump from about 12,000 feet and will be in freefall for just over a minute.
It's been 5 years in the making but with the date so close, the event is and will continue getting lots of attention. While the Red Bull name will be connected, there are no tickets or other direct revenue streams from this project - just the need to push further than ever before.
Chris Smith over at Forbes may have summed it up best:
Perhaps most surprising is that, unlike many of Red Bull's other activities, there is little direct corporate gain from tomorrow's near-space jump...
What Red Bull does get is another association between its brand and the very limits of human performance. Red Bull has previously sponsored events where records for the longest rally car jump, highest BMX jump and longest snowmobile jump were all broken. Tomorrow's event will take Red Bull's brand higher than it has ever gone before and, unlike Baumgartner, it won't be falling anytime soon.
So often we prefer to see concrete results for our marketing efforts, but it's always good to remember that branding and marketing aren't just about those concrete results, they're also about the perception of your company. Sponsoring an awesome 'space dive' sends a pretty distinct message about your company and easily solidifies your connection with the extreme in the minds of consumers. So... What's your positioning?
Red Bull Stratos launches tomorrow at 8am eastern time, which means he'll be leaving the balloon around 11am...but you might want to be watching beforehand.
So the launch was unbelievable and went off successfully! Here are all the jump and descent details about how it turned out, and you can watch the video (full length) below!
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