Red Bull Sponsoring Daredevil Felix Baumgartner May Usher In Marketing Investment in Science

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The question is: Will we ever see global companies like Cola-Cola and Nike, who are fighting rising costs and increased competition, push onto broader platforms like scientific and medical research where they could conceivably gain increased customer loyalty and respect while reinforcing their brands? The companies already participate in a number of philanthropic causes.

A spokesman for Nike said the company conducts a wide range of sport and body-related scientific research.

In a statement, the Coca-Cola Company said it "supports independent research designed to promote evidence-based science to advance knowledge, understanding and help facilitate workable solutions to promote active, healthy living. For research related to our business and product portfolio we support independent research, as well as research we do internally, as part of our commitment to product and packaging safety and quality."

Nike's tagline is the venerable phrase "Just Do It" while Coke's worldwide tag is "Open Happiness." It doesn't take much imagination to see how Nike's slogan could be used by the company to inspire millions fighting through medical challenges that involve walking and running. Similarly, "Open Happiness" lends itself nicely to a world where 1.1 billion people don't have access to clean drinking water.

Author Max Barry must be giddy with excitement. Max is the author of the novel Jennifer Government. He writes about a future world where companies like Nike, IBM and Apple have formed two alliances which run the world. This was all a far-fetched guilty pleasure for me as an ad guy until NASA cancelled the manned space program and Felix Baumgartner rose 24 miles above the earth adorned in a Red Bull costume. Will we now see the convergence of Madison and MIT? I'm going outside to look up at the sky now.

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

Larry D. Woodard is CEO of Graham Stanley Advertising and the co-author of the book, "Advertising as a Branding Tool."

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