So here’s how it works:RedBull Stratos Logo

  1. Put dude in fancy new space suit
  2. Put dude in a little box
  3. Hook box to a super-cool weather balloon and let go
  4. Watch as balloon floats towards space
  5. Once the balloon is 23 miles above the earth, dude opens box and JUMPS OUT!
  6. Dude falls back towards earth and (hopefully) becomes the first person to break the sound barrier with his body
  7. (this is the important one) Dude survives

That is the RedBull Stratos project in a nutshell. Visit the website for more details, or even better, check out the trailer they made for it:

So why am I talking about this? Because I think this is absolutely fantastic marketing.

According to the Stratos website, this project is already three years in the making and couldn’t have been cheap. Instead of spending that money on TV commercials I would just fast-forward right through, RedBull decided to put their money behind a project that has massive coolness points (read: increased viral potential) AND genuine implications for furthering our knowledge of aeronautics, medicine, and engineering.

RedBull is thinking about marketing in a new way. They’re not trying to convince me that RedBull gives me more energy than Monster, they’re relying on a specific type of branding exercise: coolness by association.

Of course, this isn’t new. Companies have been slapping their logos on everything from people, to teams, to race cars for years in an attempt to capture coolness by association. But like all forms of traditional advertising, this dogmatic practice of putting your logo on everything has progressively less of an effect on an ad-saturated culture.

RedBull understands this. You don’t see a RedBull logo on a golfers hat. You don’t see a RedBull commercial with Eli Manning. Instead, RedBull gives you things like Flugtag, the RedBull Air Race, and now, Stratos.

The minds at RedBull display a keen (perhaps the keenest out there) understanding that in order for “coolness by association” to work, you have to realize that the bar for what is cool is much higher in our modern times.

As a marketing initiative, I think it’s working. I’ve told everyone I know about it. I sent the trailer around my whole office. And, if I site back and truly ask myself if I feel more positive about RedBull now that I know they are behind this project that is not just cool, but scientifically valuable, the honest answer is yes.

Written by Matt Peters
Matt is the Co-Founder and CEO of Pandemic Labs, and enjoys thinking about, writing about, and talking about social media marketing whenever someone will let him.