'Fun and engaging content provided much-needed relief' - Behind the Campaign, Red Bull Rubik’s Cube World Cup

Oliver Bradley, client director at Words + Pixels, discusses the agency's work on the event.

Image via Red Bull
Image via Red Bull

What was the campaign in a nutshell?

In a year without sport, we worked with Red Bull to highlight a different type of athlete, the ‘speedcubers’, where mental agility reigns supreme. The third series of the Red Bull Rubik’s Cube World Cup took place entirely online this year, and fell on the 40th anniversary of the iconic Rubik’s Cube. More than 2,000 people entered from around the world, using a newly launched digital cube to compete.

How did the idea come into being?

The competition was originally planned to take place in India; however, in March the competition was moved to a digital-only format. Words + Pixels supported the competition in its new guise, developing a global media strategy that amplified the brand’s core message that Red Bull vitalises body and mind. We showcased this new breed of athlete through creative activations that would ensure this niche sporting event could break into mainstream media.

What ideas were rejected?

We worked up a number of ideas. However, one that we were particularly excited about had to be rejected due to COVID. We knew there was a fascination with people who could solve the cube quickly, so we wanted to see what really set them apart by putting one ‘cuber’ through a series of ‘brain’ experiments. We secured a partnership with a neurotech company in Salzburg to fully investigate but had to postpone at the last minute.

Briefly describe the campaign planning and process

We were briefed in September, so only had a couple of months to plan and activate. We needed to align with international markets and the Rubik’s team, who had their own plans to celebrate the 40th anniversary. We focused initially on the individual competitors, transferring their skills to explore how logic, patience and strategy could be applied in other ways.

We also developed bigger activational ideas, with global appeal, using Red Bull and Rubik’s ambassadors. We worked with a Rubik’s Cube artist to create a huge mosaic – the largest ever made in less than 24 hours – developing content for both editorial and owned media.

Red Bull also created content internally, working with its own roster of athletes. The result of this was an incredible piece of content that saw ‘cubing’ superstar Max Park challenge F1 driver Max Verstappen in a speed race with a twist.

What were the biggest challenges and how did you overcome them?

With COVID restrictions, creating live content was always going to be a challenge. Without being able to manage shoots on the ground, it was important to trust partners to create the content that they felt worked best for specific channels – ultimately this added to the success of the campaign content as it felt more authentic.

The World Cup Final fell in the same week as the US election and new coronavirus lockdowns so there were certainly concerns around space in the media for a story like this. However, with so much negativity in the news, fun and engaging content about the world-famous puzzle provided much-needed relief and we were able to generate incredible cut-through globally.

How did you measure the results and what were they?

The objective was mass awareness in key markets, ensuring Red Bull was given the opportunity to continue its great work in the ‘mind sports’ space. Measurables focused on volume and messaging of coverage across global media. Words + Pixels secured almost 1,000 pieces of coverage globally. Outlets included CNN, ABC, Fox News, BBC Breakfast, This Morning, Radio 5 Live, Reuters, The Guardian, The Times and MailOnline. Footage from the world finals was the second most watched video on the BBC. Coverage was in 34 countries, including the US, UK, Australia, Germany, India and the UAE. Coverage was split between broadcast and online. Social media content reached more than 99 million people. Entrants to the Red Bull Rubik’s Cube 2020 World Cup were higher than the two previous years combined.

What is the biggest lesson you took away from the campaign?

There really is no international monitoring service good enough when something goes ‘viral’. We’re still finding coverage of the Rubik’s Cube Mosaic after wrapping the campaign weeks ago.

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