Red Bull Triumphs With Baumgartner Jump by Getting Out of the Way

Brand is omnipresent yet invisible

It always seemed quite risky for Red Bull to be sponsoring a stunt that could, if things went wrong, result in a human being exploding 24 miles above the Earth. But the energy drink took that chance, and Felix Baumgartner on Sunday rewarded the brand richly for it. The media exposure around Baumgartner's record-setting leap was itself astronomical—coming off relatively little financial investment. (The live-stream video on YouTube had 8 million concurrent views, the most ever on the site, and was shared almost 700,000 times in just a few hours. The highlights video, posted below, is also now starting to trend.) Plus, the stunt perfectly matched the brand's rebellious, adventurous persona, and had the added value of actually helping to push the limits of human achievement (i.e., it wasn't just a silly and dangerous thing to do, but had some scientific value). Kudos to Baumgartner, obviously—but also to Red Bull, which let the Austrian daredevil's feat largely speak for itself. The brand led the entire Red Bull Stratos project scientifically, and has more right to crow about its content than most brands. Yet it posted just three photos on Facebook over the weekend—a product shot taken at 120,000 feet (caption: "Anyone doubt that Red Bull Gives You Wings?"), which you can hardly blame them for; a link to live coverage of the jump; and an instantly iconic photo—actually, a video screen grab—of a victorious Baumgartner kneeling safely in the desert in his Red Bull colors. That showed remarkable restraint, wisely ceding the spotlight to the man, not the brand. Few brand posts on Facebook deserve half a million likes, but that last pic is one of them. UPDATE: On Monday, the brand added an official congratulatory Facebook post, with a glossier photo (above) of a grinning Baumgartner standing in the desert.