Marketing the Moon

As last Sunday turned into Monday (which by the way originates from the Latin word meaning  “Moon Day”,)  the moon shined — shone? — brighter than it had since Dewey defeated Truman in the 1948 election. Astronomers dubbed it the supermoon.

Based on the ho-hum reaction of my kids for the three seconds during which it captured their gaze, I’m not sure the supermoon lived up to its hype. Still, coming mere days after a presidential election that exposed the lowest of the low of the human condition, there was something endearingly appropriate about man’s attention (sorry Neil — make that “mankind’s” attention) turning heavenward, even for a brief moment.

It was about time the moon got its props again.  When I was a kid in the Sixties, the country was moon crazy. Lunar loony-ness was in. The space race was on. The country was united around a goal even a six-year old could understand: put a man on the moon by the end of the decade. And get him back to earth so he can do product endorsements.

With so many bad things going on in the late 1960s — Vietnam, riots, assassinations — no wonder we welcomed the happy distraction of space. For a time, every boy in America, and maybe even girls, wanted to be an astronaut. Teachers would wheel in a black and white television on a cart into our classrooms so we could see the launches live from the Cape. The astronauts were revered with a degree of awe that put them somewhere between the Beatles and Mickey Mantle in the pantheon of prepubescent hero worship.

The Toymakers and Hollywood obliged, churning out space-themed products, TV shows, cartoons and comic books faster than a procreating tribe of tribbles on the starship Enterprise.

And speaking of enterprise — as in the free sort — the Apollo program and ad marketers were a match made in heaven. Thus came a proliferation of product placements on the space flights — everything from watches and cameras to shavers and God knows what else. For a comprehensive look, check out Marketing the Moon by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek.











A wind up razor? Guess after Apollo 13, NASA wasn’t taking any chances with power drains. But even star billing on a moon trip couldn’t make the Wind-Up  Monaco a winner.


The Omega watch people might have been stretching the truth a tad by claiming the Speedmaster “survived all the hazards of space,” as if it were strapped to the capsule’s     heat shield enduring 3,000 degree blasts, or staving off meteor strikes.

















This ad from 1968 proved that A.) Gender stereotypes were alive and well on Madison Avenue and B.) With enough creative effort, any product, even floor cleaner, could leverage the excitement around the Apollo program and the race to the moon.


What’s the origin of dark matter and do wormholes provide a tunnel to other universes?  Who cares? What we really want to know is why they stopped making Grape Tang.

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