This week's edition of Harf Time was hosted by Kevin Hillier and focused on the Red Bull Stratos event, where former Austrian militant-cum-daredevil Felix Baumgartner jumped to earth from a helium balloon-powered pod in the stratosphere. An initiative of energy drink-turned media company Red Bull, the high-risk marketing event was watched by a staggering 8 million people via YouTube.


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Baumgartner jumped from 128,000 feet above the earth and hit a top speed of over 1,000km per hour. If you haven't watched the video yet, or just want to watch it again, here it is:

Here is a good article that discusses the broken records and marketing aspects of the Stratos event. You can also check out the official Red Bull Stratos page for a deeper insight.

Until Next Week

Listen to Harf Time on Wednesdays (at 2:45pm) when Sean Callanan discuss sports digital with Daniel Harford.

Tune into Harf Time over the weekdays from 12-4pm on 1116 SEN.


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Podcast transcription

Kevin: Sean Callanan is in the studio, you can follow Sean on Twitter ‘@SportsGeek’ and also you’re on Facebook as well. You’re on all of those social media things, aren’t you Sean?

Sean: Pretty much, you can pretty much find me anywhere

Kevin: You’re going to give me an education in what’s going on with these things, and how we should utilise them and how we are utilising them?

Sean: Yeah about how the sports are using them and the big story I guess from a digital point of view this week – and it’s gone mainstream, which was the whole idea- is the Red Bull Stratos Jump which…

Kevin: Mr Baumgartner

Sean: Mr Baumgartner, with Red Bull driving it, it has been the talk of the digital town and that’s pretty much why Red Bull has done it. Pretty much to get their name and their brand in on the front page of every paper and have everyone talk about it, so it’s been which is now termed as content marketing. So building content…

Kevin: OK, it’s got a name for it.

Sean: It’s got a name for it, yeah. It’s building content that will be liked and shared and promoted. Just some of the numbers they had, Red Bull put up a picture on Facebook and it’s had 216,000 likes of that picture, so people have seen it and they’ve been talking about it. It’s obviously been trending on Twitter and there’s now some very funny parody accounts on Twitter, like the parody account of Felix is like ‘I jumped out of space. What did you do today?’

Kevin: [Laughs]

Sean: So it’s been great to expand Red Bull’s reach. Traditionally they sell tickets to all their ex-fighters and action sports so it’s expanded it to a whole new audience.

Kevin: And it fits them as a club beautifully.

Sean: It does fit them and so now the marketers are looking at are they getting the returns from what they’ve done, because it costs a bit of money to put a balloon up to space and have a guy jump out. There rolling out of a content piece this large…

Kevin: I would imagine it would cost them a fortune.

Sean: It has cost them a fair bit but they amount of coverage they’ve got – the fact the we’re talking about – it got mainstream press and it’s been getting all the coverage, is a key plank for…

Kevin: So how do they come up with a dollar value? How do they actually come up with at the end of the day say ‘OK because it was SEN, because it was in the Herald Sun, because it was on Twitter and 50,000 people liked it on Facebook…’

Sean: Yeah, they’ve still got to do all the media mentions and stuff like that and give it some value. And someone who has paid for the whole project has got to come back with those reports and say ‘Yes, it worked’. The thing with digital is they are still trying to figure out exactly how that reach is going to come. The Stratos page has got more Facebook fans so they’ll be able to keep talking about it, but really maybe the Red Bull Facebook page needs more fans so they want to have that conversation. And maybe those new fans now come to an Ex-Fighters event, or maybe they’ll go to the 7/11 and buy Red Bull which really would be the goal of most things that Red Bull want to do.

Kevin: [Laughs] At the end of the day.

Sean: So what they’re trying to do is produce this content that makes people go ‘wow’.

Kevin: Well they certainly did that.

Sean: From a sports point of view, that’s what the sports team and that’s what AFL media is it’s a content marketing business. Yes they’re reporting news and the sport but they’re also trying to produce content that is appealing to different segments of the community, and people will then start following footy or start going to a game because ‘I like that guy.’ Content marketing is a new term but it really is being able to tell the story behind what you’re doing, so in this case Red Bull wanted to extend their story around being Action Sports and ‘We’re living on the edge and we do crazy things. Red Bull gives you wings, stops you hitting the earth when you jump out of a balloon…’

Kevin: From exploding [Laughs]

Sean: Exactly so it extended that storytelling for them.

Kevin: Should he have not taken the opportunity to have sent a Tweet from… Shouldn’t he have done that?’

Sean: Yeah he could have at 30,000 feet, it might have been hard to do.

Kevin: Which would have been like ‘Oh sh…..’ [Laughs]

Sean: Yeah exactly, only 140 characters but yeah he probably wouldn’t even had time to get a Tweet out, that’s the thing, coming down. So it was really interesting to see and I think more brands will head to that space whether it’s stunt stuff or being integrated with teams, clubs and leagues as they’re trying to do stuff.

Kevin: And it’s direct marketing too, isn’t it?

Sean: Yeah and again it’s putting them in front of other energy drinks because everyone’s talking about Red Bull. Facebook will give you those stats, people are talking about it and you can see ‘Did you see it?’ ‘Oh I haven’t seen it’, now there’s a Lego parody video of it, so you can watch the Lego version of him. And it’s really well done…

Kevin: It is quite funny.

Sean: And that’s something where Red Bull hasn’t gone and paid for it, someone’s gone and done it. It’s become it’s own little meme and it’s extended and they’re not paying for that extra stuff

Kevin: And the Facebook photo – which I saw I think yesterday – of what’s her name on the Titanic saying ‘I’m on top of the world’ and then the photo of Baum Gartner on top saying ‘You’re kidding’ or words to that effect.

Sean: Exactly so Internet memes and things like that spawn off this kind of stuff, and that stuff that Red Bull will be monitoring and keeping an eye on but it just extends their reach. Because everyone is still talking about this stuff. So from a sports team point of view I’m not saying throw your sports playing out of a balloon at 30,000 feet…

Kevin: No, we did it at Bulldogs once, we threw them out of a plane back in ’92 I think it was.

Sean: But you’ve got to always be thinking of different ways, ‘How can I make this content viral?’

Kevin: So does it get a tick from you?

Sean: Oh definitely, I mean it’s been a phenomenal success.

Kevin: They killed it, didn’t they, absolutely blooming’ smashed it.

Sean: And the things is it’s went from didn’t know about it to everyone knows about it, so it’ll be interesting to see where it sits two months down the track. People may just go ‘I don’t remember that anymore’

Kevin: The things for me is – and we’ve got to wrap it up as we’ve got the race coming up – how do they top it?

Sean: That’s the thing, they’ve put the bar pretty high…

Kevin: That’s as high as the bar can go [Laughs]

Sean: So maybe it’s down, maybe it’s a submarine type of…

Kevin: Underworld one [Laughs]

Sean: Underworld one.

Kevin: Good on you Sean, appreciate your time, Sean Callanan, Sports Geek HQ.