Red Bull sent a man into space, so what can utilities do?

By Zahra Dhanani, Research Associate –

In 2010, Red Bull announced they would send Felix Baungartner to the edge of space for the highest-ever free-fall jump to Earth, an event called “Stratos”.

And, as millions know, they did it. After two years of training, development and marketing what was dubbed “the event of the year,” Mr. Baumgartner broke five official Guinness World Records as he fell 24 miles to Earth, becoming the first human to break the sound barrier without an engine.

Red Bull brand has always been associated with high-energy, adrenaline-pumping events and this was no exception. Of course everything related to the event was wrapped head to toe in branding with the company spending close to $73 million in paid and measured media.

The website Red Bull set up to engage customers and build up to the event registered 1 million unique user accounts and 2 million consumer actions tied to the “Stratos” event itself. On the day of the launch, close to 52 million people followed the story online through the live webcast, making it the most watched live stream audience in history.

During and after the event, average consumer engagement with the Red Bull brand increased 400%. Translation = worldwide sales rose 13% to 5.2 billion cans, with US sales up 17%

I know what you’re gonna say… How can we compete with a big budget and the resources of Red Bull?

Well it’s all about scalability and optimizing your strengths.

Utilities have an incredible secret weapon when it comes to online content. Lineman occupy a certain sweet spot in fandom culture, in that they garner high levels of respect from everyone. Doing what is often considered one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, lineman appreciation is not the least bit surprising. #linemanappreciationday

Utilizing this level of fan interest, develop an experiential marketing campaign across various customer segments. For experiential marketing to be successful, you have to turn a brand experience into a content factory and make use of all different platforms and channels. Maybe sponsor a day where children get to go climbing with lineman, as both an educational and experiential effort. A Day in the Life of a Lineman series that spans the different situations they can encounter.

Inside Energy, a collaborative journalism initiative among public media, partnered with Xcel Energy to follow one of the company’s linemen for a day. The resulting video currently has 20,000 views and counting. JEA recorded their linemen agility and climbing test to take their customers and prospective linemen into exactly what it takes to qualify for the job. The video has more than 100,000 views.

Experiential marketing is definitely the future of targeted marketing efforts, especially when your consumers are becoming more interested in the behind the scenes stories than an ad campaign. Remember, turn your experiences into content!

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