Red Bull’s sky-high sponsorship and Bodyform’s period drama show PR at its best

Good PR of the week

High five to Red Bull

On Sunday 14 October, Skydiver Felix Baumgartner broke the sound barrier in a 24-mile jump, after a two-hour balloon ascension to the edge of space.

The jump, sponsored by energy drink Red Bull, was in harmony with the “Red Bull gives you wings” marketing message and cleaned up in terms of coverage, featuring on pretty much every national front page on the following Monday morning.

Eight million people – a YouTube streaming record – watched Baumgartner have a stilted conversation with an unnecessarily packed mission control room before throwing himself towards the ground at the speed of sound.

The fact the jump was cancelled due to weather the week before it happened can’t have hurt the stunt, teasingly allowing interest to build in what I’d describe as marketing foreplay. If the cancellation wasn’t planned, it should have been. speculated that the jump is worth tens of millions of dollars in global exposure for Red Bull, though how it reached that figure – perhaps using the much-maligned AVE metric – is up for debate.

It was entertainment the American way, with talk that Baumgartner could fall unconscious if he spun out of control and speculation as to the perils of his suit ripping, which many will have found annoyingly contrived given the fact it’s very unlikely anything would have been left to chance.

That said, worldwide entertainment is a huge business. The Presidential debates are made-for-TV spats more akin to Jerry Springer than Question Time. People like entertainment and Red Bull has pulled off one of the biggest marketing coups in living memory, managing to embed itself firmly in a story that will no doubt enter pop culture in a way most marketers can only dream of.

Bodyform comes clean

In an example of a brand using customer/public comments to generate content, sanitary product company Bodyform has released a simple yet well-scripted video.

It all started when Facebook user Richard Neill posted this on the Bodyform Facebook page. The post, which takes issue with Bodyform’s misleading advertising of “happy periods“, had, at the time of spotting this, received more than 80,000 likes. Having read agency Rubber Republic’s blog about the video, it’s clear that Bodyform saw an opportunity yet weren’t sure how to respond, calling on PR agency Carat to help formulate a response.

From the blue drink – a nod to the weird blue liquid poured onto sanitary towels to demonstrate their absorbency in ads – to the fact the video needed a fart consultant (here’s to you, Mike Koenig), I’m a fan.

Here’s the video, entitled The Truth, which as pointed out in this blog by Jonathan MacDonald (spotted when tweeted by all-round good guy Sean Fleming), is somewhat disingenuous:

Bad PR of the week

Lancashire Police

I know, I know, having a bash at a public service is easily done. Even easier when said public service tasers a blind man whose white stick was mistaken for a SAMURAI SWORD.

In short, 61-year-old Colin Farmer was tasered by a Lancashire police officer after a member of the public reported a man walking through Chorley with a samurai sword.

Lancashire Police has apologised, said the force had "deep regrets" and had "clearly put this man through a traumatic experience".

Farmer said it felt like he was grabbing an electricity pylon – I always wonder whether people have experienced these things before they presume that’s what it’d feel like – and has had his case referred to the Independent Police Complaints Commission.

Here’s the story on the BBC. Thanks to Ishbel Macleod for tweeting with it!

Have you seen any good or bad PR?

Contact PR Rich Leigh with it by tweeting him @GoodandBadPR or by emailing throughout the week and we’ll happily credit you for your trouble.

Good and Bad PR is a feature on the blog of 10 Yetis PR Agency.