The Red Bull Effect: When Marketing Campaigns Have Little to do with the Product

By Anonymous // Published on Nov 06, 2013

There’s no shortage of creative ad campaigns these days. With consumers seeing hundreds of marketing messages a day, it’s important for marketers to come up with a campaign that’s eye-catching and attention-grabbing. This has led some companies to go so far out of the box that it leaves us wondering “what was that a commercial for” after all the ooo-ing and ahh-ing. However, some companies manage to effectively communicate the product or the brand throughout the commercial. Call it the Red Bull effect. Red Bull pulled off possibly one of the biggest marketing stunts of all-time when the brand sponsored a leap from space. Now, Felix Baumgartner probably didn’t need an energy boost for the jump as his adrenaline level was probably through the roof, and (SPOILER ALERT!) Red Bull doesn’t actually give you wings to jump from space. It doesn’t give you wings period. So why would Red Bull attempt this sort of marketing campaign? Because the jump brought millions of viewers to their screens to watch Felix jump from space, with the Red Bull logo conveniently located everywhere.

But if the commercial has nothing to do with the actual product benefits, is it an effective campaign? Let’s take a look at Mike & Ike candy. In 2012, it was announced that the namesake’s duo split up professionally because they just couldn’t make it work (Mike was spending too much time on his music, while Ike was way too into his graffiti... Who knew). The $15 million campaign documenting the split was supplemented by social media platforms such as Facebook, where video reactions from celebrities were featured, and Tumblr, where notes from Mike about Ike and vice versa were posted.

The campaign was developed as a revitalization attempt by Just Born, the candy’s parent company, in hopes of attracting a younger generation. Makes sense - the candy’s been around for 73 years. Turns out, the younger generation loves a good break-up. Although we were not certain the pair would reunite (they did, just recently), marketing of the split drove sales for the candy up 7.2%, the highest annual sales in the history of the brand. Now, Just Born is hoping to see similar if not better results from the sequel campaign touting the reunion of Mike and Ike.

Now for a bit of a (SPOILER ALERT!) There isn’t really a Mike and an Ike who recently reunited after a brief separation period. But Just Born created a story, got fans involved, and developed an unique marketing campaign that revitalized their brand and sales. So although all of this hooplah was actually for bite-sized candy, it managed to grab the attention of the consumer while ensuring they wouldn’t soon forget the brand name. After all, brand recognition and association is half the battle when trying to sway customers’ purchasing decisions. 

"When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt."
- HenryJ. Kaiser