In the age of the NewSpace race; the future of space exploration is no longer limited to government backed space forces and politics. The rise of innovative private companies, commercialisation and huge developments in space tourism means the sector is now open to everyone… including you.
Even brands that we are used to seeing on earth are beginning to see the benefits space can offer and whilst sending branded products into space is not a new idea, many companies are yet to expand their horizons further than earth.
You might be thinking isn’t it too expensive to send things to space? However, many forward-thinking companies would disagree and are seeing the benefit that marketing in space offers (plus it is just as expensive for a big influencer to promote your product anyway). That being said, this opportunity is a unique way for a brand to reimagine themselves outside earth and prepare for the future of humanity.
Recent years have also seen a huge shift in what people want to consume; Millennials, Gen-Z, and even younger generations now value experiences over physical objects. The shift is fuelled by the type of content being produced on social media through sites like Instagram and the rise of influencers. There is increased pressure for many to take beautiful photos of them out and about, on trips, experiencing the most amazing things, which means that people are willing to pay more for a lifestyle over materialistic things than they would have before. Brands are now under increased pressure to replicate the types of things their consumers dream of doing, it makes them recognisable, aspirational and allows them to resonate and align with the lifestyles and values of their customers.
NASA defines the Low-Earth Orbit (LEO)economy as:
“The production, distribution, and trade of goods and services within low-Earth orbit. As technology progresses, this economic space will grow to include more groups (including but not limited to governmental, commercial, and academic) that will contribute to the LEO economy’s continued expansion and support future sustainable space enterprises”.
Currently there are more than 50 companies already conducting commercial research and development on the space station as part of the effort intended to broaden the scope of commercial activity on the space station. Before recent years all activities taking place onboard were limited to research and development only but there are still a few requirements brands need to meet to undertake any work aboard.
In order for brands to qualify to conduct any work aboard the ISS they need to fulfil one of these requirements:
The Speedmaster aka ‘Moonwatch’ is probably one of the most important and historic products in the history of brands in space. Whilst many brands to follow paid to be in space, Omega were part of something bigger, they designed for space. Undergoing what were labelled the ‘torture trials’ against Rolex and Longines-Wittnauer, all the watches were put to the test through extreme temperatures, high pressure, humidity, gravity, acceleration and deceleration to decide which would win the partnership for the Apollo programme. The results were in…and on the 1stof March 1965 the Omega Speedmaster was going to be the watch of Astronauts. A clear winner: only losing 15 minutes during acceleration tests, gaining 21 minutes on the deceleration tests and the luminous material on the face was destroyed. In comparison the Rolex stopped running on two occasions during the relative humidity test and failed one of the temperature tests and The Longines-Wittnauer also failed one of the temperature tests as well as the decompression test.
After the watch was selected to partner with NASA it underwent a few modifications by them to include more robust build with a thicker and larger 42mm case construction, crown guards and wider-set pushers and then joined the Apollo crew to the moon. The Speedmaster’s role in the space program did not end after the monumental Apollo 11 mission. The model went on to be used in the later Apollo missions, including the last flight, Apollo 17, which marked the sixth lunar landing in 1972. Even after the Apollo program ended, Omega’s work with NASA and other space programs continued.
As part of NASA’s efforts to promote business opportunities on the ISS, global beauty brand Estee Lauder has sent their newest skincare formula ‘Advanced night serum’ up to space. It hitched a ride to the ISS aboard a resupply mission, paying NASA $128K for the whole project, including the astronauts doing a four-and-a-half-hour photoshoot of the product. Whilst to some this may seem like a huge price tag, paying big influencers for a few Instagram posts cost roughly the same amount… and we have got to admit we think space marketing is much more exciting (although we might be bias). The serum will be photographed in the iconic cupola window, the ultimate room with a view however we do not yet know how the brand plans to use these images.
This is not the only part of Estee Lauders project that is important, there is a certain allure and value to products that have been to space, which is why Estee Lauder have decided to auction off one of the space bottles for charity. The 10bottles are planned to return to Earth sometime in spring 2021.
Phil McAlister (Director of commercial spaceflight development at NASA Headquarters) commented on the project saying, “We need to expand people’s perspective on what we can accomplish in space,”. There is hope that these kinds of activities will be a catalyst for many businesses to expand into space and exploration - no matter their current industry.
On the 6th of February 2018 aboard the Falcon heavy’s maiden flight, Founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk launched his personal Tesla Roadster into space as a payload. Not only was the car launched into orbit around the sun, aboard it was a dummy wearing a SpaceX suit nicknamed ‘Starman’, a reference to the David Bowie classic hit. Elon Musk shared several reasons why they chose to send the car up with the rocket, “It’s kind of silly and fun, but silly and fun things are important…Life cannot just be about solving one sad problem after another,” he said. “There need to be things that inspire you, that make you glad to wake up in the morning and be part of humanity. That is why we did it."
Whilst it was an extraordinary marketing stunt from Tesla and SpaceX due to the sheer size of the payload and the trip it is undertaking, the link to the Space Sector through Elon Musk founding the two companies, made it slightly easier to do. However, as we see in a shift in focus towards space exploration over the next few years this sort of connection is likely to be increasingly more common, much like Jeff Bezos founding Blue Origin might create a link for Amazon to outer space.
The intrigue surrounding the ‘Starman’ did not just stop at the launch, many have spent time calculating and tracking where he could be in Space. We are told the next time we might get a glimpse of him close to Earth is the 1st of January 2085. See you soon Starman!
39kmabove the earth’s surface - the edge of space, a height that would make your stomach drop, but not for Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner. In what is potentially the biggest and most successful marketing stunt to date, Red Bull brought together world leading experts in medicine, science, and engineering to break three world records when Baumgartner completed a freefall from space. Beginning in 2005, the project took 8 years of hard work, innovation, research, and testing until the jump took place on the 14th of October 2012 only lasting10 minutes. In this time, he managed to break the speed of sound, travelling at a velocity of 833.9mph, break the record for the highest ever freefall and the longest ever freefall. After the jump Felix Baumgartner said “Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive”.
Called the Red Bull Stratos project, not only did the jump receive 8 million concurrent views on YouTube live, but it also provided valuable research on improving aerospace safety, the use of helium balloons and parachute systems which set a new standard in payload recovery. Red Bull proved you do not have to be a company solely based in the space sector to innovate and achieve, their skills in extreme sports and event planning helped them make the impossible possible… as they say Red Bull gives you wings.
It was not just 8 million viewers that wanted to support Felix Baumgartner, KitKat also decided to send one of their iconic bars up to space strapped to a weather balloon and a go pro just hours before he was scheduled to jump. Using their iconic tagline, the stunt was called #breakfromgravity and the footage filmed via the go pro was released as a video on YouTube. The idea was an intuitive piece of reactive marketing done in the spur of the moment for the company by their marketing agency JWL London, taking just 24 hours from the idea being put forward to then being executed. The Kit Kat started its ascent from Cambridgeshire (UK) at 11:20am and rose to a height of 35.5km, just shy of the 39km Felix Baumgartner jumped from, that is one big step for a chocolate bar although it is not quite space, we had to include it!