“Did they really just do that?”
Not too long ago, David Blaine took to the skies by dangling from a hot air balloon because he is David Blaine and that is what he does. The stunt, called Ascension, saw Blaine holding onto a bunch of helium balloons (50, to be exact) and ascending as high as he could possibly go, which ended up being about 4.7 miles. He was able to hold on for about an hour before letting go (and parachuting back to earth). What a feat! And that got me thinking: what other brands—Mr. Blaine (Magician, LLC) is a brand, right?—have gone above and beyond (sometimes literally) to show the world they’ve very much still got it? Gaze upon my findings yourselves.
When That KFC Ad Was Visible From Space
KFC is no stranger to bold advertisements. Remember when “nobody liked their fries?” Or, when they wrote “FCK” on a bucket? Good one(s)! But they’ve yet to top their 2006 visible-from-space ad, which, at the time, was the first for a brand. Comprised of handmade colored tiles that stretched a whopping 87,500 square feet across Rachel, Nevada—AKA Area 51—the KFC logo, which had been revamped (hence the campaign), became a momentary global phenomenon. “If there are extraterrestrials in outer space, KFC wants to become their restaurant of choice,” said Gregg Dedrick, president of KFC’s U.S. division, at the time.
Fun fact: In 2017, just over a decade later, the brand would fly a sandwich to space.
When Snapple Made a Giant Popsicle (and It Unintentionally Melted)
The best time to eat ice cream—outside of any emotionally-involved situations where it could be considered therapy—is when the temperature outside is rather warm. Unfortunately, Snapple didn’t plan on this (or they didn’t plan on it happening so fast, at least) when they showed off their massive popsicle—the world’s largest, at the time—in Times Square as part of an eye-catching campaign in 2005. Several streets needed to be closed so that the remnants of 25-foot-tall treat popsicle could successfully be cleaned up. Yikes! I hope Snapple has a copy of KFC’s above-mentioned “FCK” campaign somewhere in their marketing department, for future reference.
When Red Bull Jumped From Space
Honestly, this roundup could consist of content entirely from Red Bull, but I felt I could only pick one, so it seemed right that it perhaps be the most iconic: Red Bull Stratos, or “the mission to the edge of space.” In October 2012, the energy drink company flew Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner 24 miles above New Mexico via a helium balloon. Eventually parachuting back down to Earth, Baumgartner broke multiple records in his freefall—which lasted more than four minutes—and also became the first person to break the sound barrier without the use of an engine. The company has since clarified that the project was not an advertising campaign, but rather a scientific mission. With that said, they are a (big) brand that pulled a crazy stunt, so I felt compelled to loop them in.
When the World’s Largest Dice Were Thrown Down a Mountain
A thing that happened in 2007: a gambling website called Gnuf ran a marketing campaign where they rolled giant dice down a mountain in Greenland. I wasn’t really sure how to say that but I think it came out OK, yeah? The site had the two steel die (each of which weighed 1,200 pounds) delivered and dropped via helicopter. It’s unclear if the dice are still used today; please feel free to reach out to Fodor’s if you have any information.
When Those Brave People Reenacted That Photo and Ate Lunch Atop a Skyscraper
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather not be trying to dissuade myself from looking down on my next lunch break, terrified of plummeting 32 stories. I’m referring to a 2018 stunt pulled by the London-based Deliveroo, a food delivery service, to celebrate the rise in outdoor food orders courtesy of an intense heatwave at the time. The posed photo they organized is intended to mimic the famous 1932 photo “Lunch Atop a Skyscraper,” which depicts workers sitting on a steel beam, high up on the Rockefeller Center (which was then under construction). This iteration is in central London and the subjects of the photo are winners of the Deliveroo contest in which they entered to be in the photo.
When Time Magazine Made a Time Magazine With Drones
In June 2018, Time took to the skies in Folsom, California, and used more than 958 drones to create an image of a literal Time magazine for its coverage on, appropriately, unmanned vehicles. What’s the science behind the magic? The drones have a specific technology that allows users to program them in a formation, which can then be used to create the desired image.
When Sony Unleashed Those Bouncy Balls on San Francisco
Dropping things down steep locations is shaping up to be a pattern, huh? Sony let loose 250,000 bouncy balls from a tennis ball-like shooter down a street in San Francisco and recorded it in 2005 to promote its Bravia TV. The resulting spot is rather entrancing and the hypnotic effect from the pops of color (which are intended to highlight the Bravia’s ability to deliver clarity “like no other”) from the balls makes the viewer feel like they’re watching a colorful snowstorm—a successful, albeit very dramatic, campaign.
Fun fact (?): Cars were indeed dented in the making of this movie.