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In The News This Week: Red Bull’s PR stunt makes history

It’s no secret that Red Bull has largely built its reputation on outrageous and impressive marketing and PR stunts. Almost a decade ago in 2012, skydiver Felix Baumgartner jumped from the edge of space breaking the sound barrier and two world records. This week however, Red Bull’s most recent stunt in Ukraine has left people asking – have they gone too far?

Earlier in the week, two Red Bull-branded cars executed a synchronized drifting stunt at a UN World Heritage Site in Kiev, the capital of Ukraine, without the permission of the local authorities – a BIG no no to anyone who works in PR. Not only did the stunt proceed despite lack of approvals, in the process the vehicles created 2,000sqm of damage, leaving black tyre treads all over the iconic Saint Sophia Cathedral. Locals are obviously outraged at the disrespect the brand showed for not only the city of Kiev, but the church too.

Red Bull has since spoken out on the incident, saying “We deeply regret this oversight on our part. It was always our intention to clean the site so that we would leave it as we found it”. However, the backlash was quick to amount and the apology has been overshadowed.

Local authorities claimed the stunt could have ended in tragedy, given it was completed in the early morning while commuters were on their way to work. The police reportedly brought an abrupt halt to the stunt, and later towed and impounded the cars, an ironic end to an otherwise creative stunt –had the proper processes been followed. The over sight has since cost Red Bull a reported $2k for site cleaning and fines.

Coming from the perspective of a PR agency, we can’t believe such a huge oversight occurred in a major corporation. While the brand is renowned for pushing the envelope and testing the boundaries, surely the negative sentiment from a whole nation (if not wider) is not worth the small about of brand awareness they have achieved? With the church such an influential institute worldwide, perhaps a CHURCH and a UN WORLD HERITAGE SITE was the worst possible choice for a marketing stunt?

By Grace Drummond, PR Coordinator, InsideOut PR and #AsSeenOn

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