Red Bull sponsors record skydive attempt

In this photo provided by Red Bull, Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria is seen before his jump during the first manned test flight for Red Bull Stratos on March 15, 2012 in Roswell, N.M.

Tomorrow, Austrian dare devil Felix Baumgartner will attempt to break a world skydiving record.  

The 43-year-old will jump out of a capsule attached to a helium balloon 23 miles above Roswell, N.M. If all goes according to plan, Baumgartner will free fall for five minutes and exceed the speed of sound.  If that sounds insanely dangerous, it is. And Red Bull is sponsoring the entire event and will be live-streaming the jump on its website.

"Most mainstream brands wouldn't touch an event like this with a 10 foot pole," says Louis Foreman, CEO of Enventys, a marketing firm. "Red Bull's a great fit. It's really what their consumer enjoys seeing. It's that live-on-the-edge lifestyle."

Because most major brands won't touch these events, Red Bull has a unique opportunity to make a positive impact on extreme sports, says Debra Kaye of Lucule.  

"When you have a company the size of Red Bull, they can actually fund better equipment," she says. "They can actually help people advance extreme sports."  

And that will also resonate with Red Bull's consumer, says Kaye. She points out Red Bull is collecting a lot of data from this jump that it says will be used for astronauts and future space tourists.

Still, the downside is real. Stunt jumpers have died at Red Bull events. Branding consultant Rob Frankel says Red Bull consumers know that injury and risk are part of extreme sports.  

"At least it will have been in the name of trying something bleeding edge adventure," says Frankel. "That's still consistent with the Red Bull brand."

There's no word on how much Red Bull has paid to make Baumgartner’s skydive happen, but Frankel says the press it's getting is worth a lot and estimates that for every dollar it's spent, it's getting at least 10 times that back in publicity. As bang for the buck goes, that is pretty extreme.

About the author

Stacey Vanek Smith is a senior reporter for Marketplace, where she covers banking, consumer finance, housing and advertising.

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