The most-watched ad in history is not an ad. Goodbye, Advertising.

The Big Leap

Three protagonists: Felix Baumgartner, Red Bull Stratos and the Challenge to Gravity. Together they got with the jump into the void Baumgartner's highest audience ever to win an ad. Not even “1984” Apple got that level of impact.

  • 8 Million people saw the jump live (Streaming) In Youtube (the event that follows, London's JJOO, Got 500.000 people connected at once on this network).
  • After landing, Red Bull posted Baumgartner's photo flexing his knees as he made landfall in Facebook. In less than 40 Minutes, the image was shared with more than 29.000 Times, generated near 216.000 “likes” and more than 10.000 Guest reviews.
  • During the jump and in the moments, half of trending topics In Twitter in the world talked jump – taking the lead off other simultaneous events like Justin Bieber and the National Football League USA games.
  • Only in Spain and through Teledeporte, 4,3 Million people followed the live jump (The 27,8% quota).

But it's not all 2.0

Indeed,, Baumgartner's leap it was real, as real was the huge investment in the ship and the preparations for the jump. The ground control team was worthy of launching a space rocket, and the next day there was no newspaper cover that wouldn't talk about the jump.

Red Bull's advertising had been around the world for years with the “gives you wings“, so we could say that the jump event was the perfect culmination of the campaign. A company that invests 25% your marketing turnover is a company that risks… and in this case wins.


If I had to frame the jump in some communication discipline, I dare say that Red Bull has built the best story ever. Remember the permanent tension of all hours and minutes leading up to the jump, an impeccable script. The sweat of ground controllers. The thousands of radio and TV commentators who ventured the worst for Baumgartner. Risk, intrigue, control (or out of control) of the times. Preparing all the equipment in the desert in which he fell. Impressive. Attraction marketing in its purest form.

Own media

Red Bull used its own facebook channels, Youtube, Twitter… to broadcast the event. Pure innovation. Another would have arranged an exclusive with some TV channel, some diary or magazine. Red Bull didn't want to share prominence, you played too much.

Has the publicity died?

The question I ask myself as an advertisement and as a victim of the indiscriminate bombardment of low-quality ads is has the publicity died?

Surely in its current stage yes. Advertising to disrupt our lives with something we don't want is disappearing. People are rebelling against the announcement of 20″ that interrupts us a movie. We prefer to record it, rent it or watch it for $2 in high definition through Apple TV. We're tired of passing pages and pages of newspapers full of ads on Sundays. We turned off the radio or change the station when entering advertising. Why? For a number of reasons:

  • There are other Options, other channels that may not broadcast advertising at the time
  • Lack of Affinity: They do not issue ads for products or services that interest us, which makes it more boring to have to listen to them.
  • The Creativity it's layered down. Only 1 of the 100 ads contains stimulating or surprising elements.
  • We have learned to value Silence, peace. And a good time to turn off the TV or radio is when advertising comes in.
  • The time for “repetition is reputation“. Now repeat abandonment is punishable by brand. A campaign aired between October 2012 February 2013 selection of waste in Catalonia (envs on vas) has achieved the opposite effect to the desired by excess repetition. Better little and good than a lot and bad.

The truth is that excessive advertising in classic media is changing media consumption patterns.

Goodbye, Advertising. Hello, Branding

I sincerely think that the present - and probably the future- it's in branding, the great umbrella of commercial communication. I understand branding as a comprehensive process of creating value around a brand, whether corporate, social or personal. I'm trying to explain myself with this chart:


What's so good about branding?

It's a complete process around the brand.

In corporate branding, For example, includes strategic communication planning, naming, research of concepts and insights, studying the brand's meanings field, brand design (Logo, Anagram…), packaging, advertising, storytelling, associated PR actions, The “publicity” (getting free news in the press), Social Media's strategy, events, promotions, merchandising, sponsorship, product placement, direct marketing, planning and buying media, building event supports, graphic arts, graphic design, photography, audiovisual realization, audience measurement systems, influence and reputation - whether conventional or online -, street marketing, retail shares at the point of sale (Tastings, Promos, Signaling…), The “city branding” or brand study of cities, web design and corporate blogs, All, All.

How a branding strategy would ideally be designed

From the heart out. From the vision (why) up to the mission (What) going through the differential values (how). It's very difficult to start from what, you have to start the process with why. Luther King dreamed of an America without racism (Vision), and that's why his message went deep. He didn't just denounce white people., it wouldn't have helped him.. Instead, created collective awareness, a gigantic social branding action. Something made Mahatma Gandhi. And so did they. Steve Jobs, who dreamed of making things easier for people or Bill Gates, who dreamed of 1975 that each house could house a computer.

In the commercial field, Red Bull's vision or dream has been for people to fly (and he's done it, go if you've done it). The vision of Bmw -in Spain- is to awaken the pleasure of driving. It's not about selling soft drinks or cars, it's about creating sensations and emotions, to reach people's hearts, of the attract by passion, not for repetition. The desired response to a well-raised branding action is not “this brand has convinced me”, Is “this brand speaks my language, understands me, Tune”.

What will happen to advertising agencies?

Many have understood the change and are offering - even without specifying it- branding processes. The others fear that they will eventually disappear or become specialists in the service of branding companies. If you're just selling ads you don't want to see beyond, they'll be ad agencies, little else. Recently, talking to a good friend, came up the idea of calling “commercial communication” to the whole set of processes I've described before. But I think he's lame., a higher concept is missing, the brand is missing. And brand is everything: Companies, Institutions, People, groups of citizens. Everything leaves a mark. That's why the word Branding (originally set the reses on fire with a distinctive symbol) fills so much, it's a binder axis.

And what about advertising professionals

In my view there is an excessive specialization around the advertising profession; there are few advertisements left “Holistic” and art directors abound, Editors, planners, account directors, media specialists… The truth is that advertisers don't want to see a team of 5 people at a meeting. They want to talk to one., with which you can talk about everything with knowledge of cause. That story that repeats itself in meetings of “I'll check with the editor” bores the most painted. We have to solve, Advise, Wet.

If we add to this that few advertising professionals understand too much of promotions, street marketing, events, we find that advertisers are required to hire 10 agencies to solve the management of the same brand: advertising, the media, social media, promotions, CSR's, that of….

So, I dare venture that the comprehensive branding professional will prevail, will be the guardian angel of company communication, Institutions, Professional… No, there is still no university degree in branding. Branding experts have gained their experience working in many places and with a very open mind. It will be a more creative profile than management, I don't doubt that., but you'll have to share your right side of the brain with some analytical ability. An SUV, A Brander.

The brander

Although there are no studies yet to be "Brander", I allow myself to recommend some readings to understand the phenomenon of branding

Puro Marketing article published in the 11 March 2013

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5 thoughts on "The most-watched ad in history is not an ad. Goodbye, Advertising.”

  1. Good morning Guillem!

    Fantastic post! Thanks a lot!

    Based on Red Bull's example, in this article you make a condensed Master Class of Branding, the Branderl, and how the concept of Marketing is being transformed based on the need to connect precisely with the right brain hemisphere of society, and for this it is necessary to think from the same.

    Connecting information, a stimulus, with an emotion and the essence of authenticity, is what will make something transcendent in some way, even if it's for remembrance, and it fuels the power of a brand.

    A hug!

    Helena Casas

    • Thank you Helena for this critical producer of endorphins and self-love of flow rates. We'll see if the idea has a tour among advertising professionals. Moments remain silent.
      A hug!


  2. Superb Guillem, Thank you!! The Stratos-Red Bull case is using it as a case study for my Advertising students as it encompasses so well the profound change that surrounds us… the emerging medium par excellence that YouTube entails, storytelling as the main axis, development and engagement tool, social media as free repeaters… I like to take it even a step further: advertising as entertainment in full order to overcome the barrier of widespread exhaustion and irritation posed by traditional advertising interruptus (in old and new media). Eye on AXE and its space mission that appears to be an attempt to emulate Red Bull.
    We're living in an exciting moment – more you can't ask!
    A hug,

    • Hello Cristina! What is clear is that the formula of traditional advertising comes to an end. AXE, Red Bull and many others know it and are taking advantage of it. Thank you for writing!


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