Resources Hub » Blog » Marketing Mistakes: How a Legendary Stunt Actually Underperformed

Marketing Mistakes is a recurring series from Campaign Monitor about the biggest email or digital marketing goofs made by various thought leaders across the industry.

As these leaders share some hard-won wisdom from earlier in their careers, the rest of us have the opportunity to learn from their mistakes without the accompanying costly consequences.

In this series, we’ll cover the mistakes people have made, how they fixed them, and what they learned in order to make us all better email marketers.

Akerho Oghoghomeh’s biggest marketing mistake

Akerho Oghoghomeh, VP Brand Strategy & Communications here at Campaign Monitor, shared with us why he considers a legendary marketing event a mistake and how that missed opportunity informs his current work.

Mistakes are definitely a great way to learn. Campaign Monitor wants to educate and empower every marketer by sharing those painful mistakes and the lessons they taught in order to save our community of marketers from repeating the same mistakes twice.

Read on to discover how you can learn from Akerho’s mistake:

The mistake: Reaching thousands, not millions

While working for Red Bull, Akerho often found himself driving awareness for new products. One event in particular sticks out in Akerho’s mind as a missed opportunity, even though the stunt he coordinated became a legend within the company.

It was experiential marketing,” Akerho tells us. “The purpose of the stunt was to drive awareness of a product not to thousands of potential customers, but to millions.

Product launch

Akerho was tasked with creating a stunt to launch their newest product, Red Bull Tropical Edition. Their target audience consisted of college kids, so Akerho thought what better way to reach college kids than during spring break?

“Spring break is a week when college kids are looking to stay awake as long as possible and take advantage of the best time of their lives, a perfect time to introduce them to a new Red Bull product.”

man surfing

Source: Red Bull’s Facebook

So Akerho headed to Panama City Beach for spring break in order to reach their target audience.

Takeaway: Reach your audience where they already are, physically and digitally.

The context

To introduce products in the past, Red Bull would release footage of helicopters dropping crates of Red Bull on social and digital platforms saying that crates of the product would be dropped in prominent locations on college campuses on a specific date. That way, college kids would wake up and run to those locations to grab a Red Bull before class. It was a stunt the company was known for, and it almost always garnered solid results for their products.

Red Bull air dropSource: Red Bull

But Red Bull wouldn’t actually fly in a helicopter. Instead, they’d have Red Bull reps carry the crates onto campus overnight and stage the scene, complete with netting and props, to make it appear like a helicopter had delivered the crates.

For the Red Bull Tropical Edition, however, Akerho had the idea to perform this stunt for real: Not a “hack,” but an actual helicopter.

Takeaway: Don’t reinvent the wheel. Use strategies you know already work for you as a springboard to your next great idea.

The goal: Drive awareness of a new product

The team found a helicopter, branded it like the Red Bull helicopters (because there actually is a fleet of Red Bull helicopters), and rigged a crate to drop 2000 Red Bull’s onto the beach in Panama City in front of thousands of college students.

But he doesn’t drop this crate just anywhere.

Tap into tradition

A Holiday Inn Express in Panama City has a tradition of waking up its resident spring breakers by blaring the Circle of Life—you know, the song from the Lion King—at 10 am. As part of this tradition, the college students go out on their balconies to wake up to the salty sea air while the song plays loudly in the background.

The team timed the helicopter to drop at 10 am, directly onto the sand. So the song played and the students stepped out onto their balconies to see a Redbull helicopter, dropping 2000 of its newest Tropical Edition on the beach, right in front of the hotel. Needless to say, the hotel practically emptied as these college students made a mad dash out to the beach to grab their Redbull Tropical.

Red Bull beach airdropSource: Red Bull

For all intents and purposes, the event looked like a hit. Local news picked up the story. The airdrop became legendary within the company.

But not to Akerho.

Takeaway: Set the bar as high as you can and don’t settle when you know you can do better.

What I learned: Aim for amplification

“We created an experience for those students that they’ll never forget, and that’s great,” Akerho says.

But to drive awareness of a product, I should have considered how to amplify the reach of this event beyond the audience that was physically there to witness it.

On its own, the event was powerful. But if Akerho had been able to leverage digital marketing to increase its reach and amplification, the event should have gone viral to reach the millions of people he wanted to introduce to the newest edition.

Takeaway: Event marketing is a great way to connect emotionally with your audience, but if you aren’t supporting your efforts through other channels, you’ll be limited to the people you can physically reach.

“These moments where customers are able to see and experience your brand firsthand are incredible. Impressions will stick with your customers and they will always care about your products and your brand.”

Authentic connection

These days, consumers seek an authentic connection with the brands they love. Like any good marketer, Akerho knows how important it is to connect consumers with your brand and create lifetime advocates.

Converting your audience from customers to lifetime advocates helps you reach new leads and will improve customer retention. Additionally, not all leads are ready to buy when they first interact with your brand. Connecting with them emotionally means you’ll stay top of mind and, when people are ready to buy, they’ll remember you and go straight to your services or products for their needs.

Takeaway: Creating lifetime advocates for your brand through authentic connection will keep your customers coming back time and again.

The solution: Extend your reach through digital marketing

Getting customers to touch and feel and interact with your product leaves a lasting impression, but only with the few people you can physically reach. This is where digital marketing can step in and amplify your marketing efforts, ensuring every person in your target audience gets to experience your product.

Email marketing

Email marketing would’ve allowed Akerho to embed a video—of both the actual drop and the news coverage—and send it to everyone on Red Bull’s global email list.

Likewise, you already have invested customers who care about your brand. Share your event with the brand advocates you already have and allow them to spread the news of your product by forwarding the email to friends or sharing on social media.

Takeaway: Use the brand ambassadors you already have on your email subscription list to reach new leads you might not be able to on your own.

User-generated content

Don’t just rely on the coverage you can drum up yourself. Instead, post, retweet, and share all the content your users create surrounding an event, experience, or product. User-generated content is a great way to build anticipation and hype around your company with no additional effort by your marketing team.

This is especially important for small companies who don’t have access to, say, a fleet of branded helicopters.

Red Bull's Instagram

Source: Red Bull’s Instagram

But you don’t need a major event or product launch to start using user-generated content to your benefit. Instead, consider creating your own hashtag and allow your loyal customers to promote your products for you. Sisters behind the jewelry brand Dannijo increased their bib sales 20% when they started incorporating—and thus their fans starting incorporating—the hashtag #putabibonit.

Takeaway: User-generated content not only recruits your fans to do some of the hard work for you, they’ll feel more loyal to your brand when they know you’re listening, watching, and liking what they have to say about your products or company.

You can’t reach everyone. You can’t throw an event for millions of people without creating a ton of work for you and costing you a lot of money. But you still need to connect emotionally with the millions of people you want to interact with your brand.

Akerho’s advice for his fellow marketers

When it comes to advice for other marketers, Akerho says, “Focus on logistics to some degree, don’t sweat the details. The details will come together.”

Instead, focus on amplification and reach. The greatest products and the best marketing campaigns only work if they’re getting in front of the right audience, and that means getting in front of a new audience. Expanding the amplification and reach of your marketing will move the business forward.

Takeaway: Keep your focus on reaching new prospects and expanding your reach.

Wrap up

When Akerho Oghoghomeh created a legendary launch for a new Red Bull product, he missed an opportunity to reach millions of potential customers. By focusing on the logistics of the event, he overlooked digital media’s ability to amplify the reach of the event and thus missed out on converting who knows how many people into lifelong brand ambassadors.

Keep your focus on amplification and how you can use multiple marketing platforms to support one another. You’ll reach new leads and see greater conversion, ultimately leading to more revenue down the road.

As long as you consistently aim to reach a new audience, your well of potential customers will never run dry and you’ll convert people to customers and also into lifelong followers of your brand and products.



Want to share your experience as a part of the Marketing Mistakes series? Submit a guest post and include Marketing Mistakes as your topic. If we end up publishing your post, we’ll let you know. *All posts are subject to our guidelines and we retain the right to edit your post to fit our guidelines and voice.

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