On Saturday July 30, skydiver Luke Aikins will jump out of a perfectly good airplane and freefall for 25,000 feet, aiming for a 10,000-square-foot, high-tech net, and break the freefall height record, and become the first person to ever land a parachute-less skydive.
The whole thing is a live television event on Fox called Heaven Sent, or more specifically, Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent. The show is one of the first projects in Stride parent company Mondelez International’s new content strategy, which includes a new broader marketing deal with Fox to innovate to tackle ad blockers and create content that cuts through advertising clutter.
Brand content, major broadcaster, and a big stunt? It’s a bit like Stride’s own version of Stratos. Which would be appropriate, since Aikins helped train Felix Baumgartner for his epic leap out of the stratosphere for Red Bull. It’s also part of a new breed of brand content that crosses the line into traditional entertainment through broadcast partnerships, all in an effort to earn your attention rather than interrupt it.
Created by aerospace physiologist Chris Talley, and Jimmy Smith, chairman and CEO/CCO of Amusement Park Entertainment, the idea originally came about in 2014, but was delayed for various network management changes, and other issues. But Mondelēz International’s global head of content and media monetization Laura Henderson says that as soon as the idea for Heaven Sent crossed her desk, she knew it was the perfect embodiment of Stride Gum’s brand image of “mad intense experiences.” This summer, Stride Gum has been redesigned with a new longer-lasting flavor, and Heaven Sent will be a major component of the brand’s relaunch.
Henderson couldn’t talk about financial specifics, but said the brand’s content partnership with Fox is something we’re going to be seeing more of. “We’re thrilled to work with a partner like Fox who truly understands the need to disrupt the model and create new ways to engage audiences,” she says. “This is an important program for both us and Fox and represents the future of how brands will engage with audiences and content producers.”
Henderson says it’s programs and partnerships like this one that will help marketers navigate consumers’ tendency to avoid ads at all costs by creating content that people actually want to watch. Like, say, a dude jumping out of a plane with no parachute.
“In a world plagued with ad skipping and blocking, we’re really focused on building quality stand-alone entertainment that will earn attention,” she says. “We recently announced the creation of our new media monetization model that will see us focused on creating bigger, bolder content around our brands that can generate a return. Heaven Sent is a major part of this new strategy–it will see us raise the bar on quality content and bring something to audiences they’ve never seen before.”