I believe I can fly

03Aug08

I went to an event at the Portland waterfront today called Flugtag, which means “Flying Day” in German. Being that Red Bull gives you wings, it seems only appropriate that the famed energy peddler stage a competition to see who can build the most effective flying machine while simultaneously maximizing the thrills of carbonated urine-drinking onlookers.

Which absolute marketing genius came up with this?

These are the kind of PR wonders that I thank new media exist in the world. The most benign and seemingly harmless of products can inspire greatness in the hearts and minds of the most meager of marketing departments. Can’t you just picture it…

“Hey Larry, what about this…there’s a big ramp, right? And it leads right into a big body of water…and there’s this huge crowd of people standing on the shore watching while these people dressed in cumbersome costumes push a giant paper mache sculpture with a hang glider on top off the ramp into the water!”

“Joe, this is Sweet n’ Low in my coffee. I asked for Splenda. Go fix this.”

Companies have been branding at huge events since the first dinosaur with “Ford” tatooed on its tail, but this is an entirely different (and awesome) way of getting a name out there. Anyone with a marginal budget and a few girls in heels and mini-skirts can sell a few cans of sludge, but Red Bull has taken it to the next level. I saw literally thousands of people stretching and straining to watch the cream of the gene crop push their lightest friend off the ramp and into the murky Willamette below.

Would you take bubbly energy waste product from these ladies? Yes, you would.


Coke and Pepsi have managed similar levels of amazing when it comes to getting the cola name out into the big bad world.

This one wasn’t even officially sponsored by Coke, but you know you’ve all seen it:

These guys do parties now. Microsoft hired them for their annual staff Christmas shindig (likely paying them in lackluster software and remorse, but still). People don’t want to be fed brands – they want the experience that makes them feel in charge of the brand. If the Tighty Flighties can fly a wire jet 50 feet on sheer will and Red Bull alone, what’s stopping your average Shmo with a garage and some duct tape from doing the same? It’s all in the name of brand utility.

All this bodes well for the future of mass consumerism, which is just fine by me, the blood-sucking, money-hoarding business major.

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