Sunday night, Travis Pastrana “recreated” 3 of Evel Knievel’s most dangerous jumps in a 3-hour, made for TV, History Channel event. It was a brilliant lesson in marketing and sponsorship tie-ins, and every business owner should pay attention.
What was this event? The History Channel described it this way:
During “Evel Live,” American professional motorsports icon and Nitro Circus ringleader Travis Pastrana will honor legendary daredevil Evel Knievel by attempting three of his most dangerous feats in Las Vegas, Nevada, all while riding a modern day recreation inspired by the motorcycle Knievel used. These include: breaking Knievel’s record jump over 52 cars, another record-breaking jump over 16 full size buses, and aiming to make history as the first person to successfully jump the Caesar’s Palace fountain on a bike similar to the one Knievel used 50 years ago – an attempt that ended with a crash that left him grasping for life. If Pastrana rides away from all three, he will be the only person to successfully beat two of Knievel’s distance records and land a jump over the fountain on a v-twin motorcycle. All of this will happen in the span of just three hours, and HISTORY will capture every exhilarating, nerve-wracking moment live.
What the History Channel did was combine the nostalgia of 70’s Evel fan’s (me) with the X Games crowd while tying in its already strong gear head and Vegas viewership.
Additionally, while watching the event, you could see that multiple sponsorships were getting major air-time. Indian Motorcycles created the modern-day versions of Evel’s bikes - one for each jump. Pastrana’s touring group, Nitro Circus, was mentioned numerous times, and Las Vegas got tons of exposure.
Then, there was the risk of death. While these jumps were nowhere as long or seemingly as difficult as Pastrana’s previous stunts, these jumps were cloaked in the history of Evel’s wrecks, and riding similarly designed bikes added just enough danger to make people wonder if Evel-type crashes were inevitable.
As you can imagine, all the jumps went as planned. Pastrana landed each safely. 3 hours of programming for less than a minute and a half of action. Brilliant.
Was it a success? While the overnight viewership numbers are not in yet, the History Channel can claim victory for this reason. The event was the number three headline on the Today Show behind only the Thailand Cave Rescue and President Trump’s nominee for the next Supreme Court seat. That’s not bad for a Sunday night event on History Channel with an X Games athlete recreating events that happened 50 years ago. So, yes, with that kind of exposure, it was a success.
The fair question is, “How do you create marketing like this?” Well, you don’t have to risk your life, but the answer is simple: copy the formula.
Tie your marketing into a past event that covers multiple generations.
For example, you can run a marketing campaign that celebrates the moon landing, past Olympic Events, or some event more local. Really, just look at landmark events in history, and connect it to today in celebration.
Find partners who have an invested interested in its success.
That’s on you. Who are your vendors? Who are your business partners? Create a campaign that has a mutual benefit for both parties, and you’ll find marketing partners.
Make the payoff and payout big enough to get people to tune in and care about the outcome.
Again, no one needs to risk their life, but is there an end game for your campaign? Create a massive giveaway or reveal something new about your company (a renovation or new location for example). Just make the campaign around something that piques your customers’ or patients’ curiosity.
After a couple of successful campaigns, you’ll be a pro. If you would like help getting started in marketing, just let us know. Gordon and ProSight Success would love to help.
Gordon Duncan is the CEO/Consultant of ProSight Success and has trained employees for nearly 20 years.
ProSight Success has a team of social media strategists. If you are interested in learning about our services, email me at email@example.com, and we will be glad to answer any of your questions.
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Gordon Duncan is an award-winning educator, salesman, teacher, manager, and writer. He has taught in the public school system, lobbied for school's accreditation, managed eye clinics, led sales' teams, and also publishes books on theology, church, and culture.