Red Bull is famous for producing daring stunts involving motorcycle jumps and backflipping helicopters, but the energy drink maker upped the ante last fall by sponsoring Stratos, a record-breaking dive from the edge of space by aerial daredevil Felix Baumgartner. On October 14, the Austrian skydiver leapt from a helium balloon floating 24 miles above the Earth, then broke the sound barrier as he fell to earth at 833.9 miles per hour. The heavily viewed event on broadcast television gave the Red Bull brand “a major boost,” said Mark Lowe, partner at PR and marketing agency Third City. “The next big question is whether Red Bull will be able to challenge the big hitters, Coke and Pepsi. That will require [creating] variants that appeal beyond its core market of young men.”
Stratos was a step in the right direction: more than 8 million viewers watched the stunt live on YouTube, with millions more tuning in on broadcast television around the globe.