As we head into the new decade, there is a real-time battle to keep up with the lightning pace of the news agenda as it relays new and developing technological, social and cultural forces. With trends like the growing role of big data, managing your reputation in the new era of post-truth politics, and communicating your purpose and integrity as a brand, the need to tap into what matters to your consumer has never been more important.
However, one of the most disruptive (and frankly more fun) forces and trends becoming prominent is as old as time itself. As we move into the roaring ’20s, outer space, the most majestic and undiscovered realm of all, will evolve into a brand of its own — and this means even the smallest brands need to get on board with the space craze.
Though outer space has long captured our imaginations, its potential as a brand of its own remains largely untapped. Now, however, the stars seem to be aligning, allowing space to take up more, well… space.
We are seeing plenty of official space business on the horizon: in addition to the plethora of space missions on the calendar, Japan is all set to build a $2bn robotic moon base in 2020. And some 50 years after Apollo 11 landed on the moon, NASA in 2020 will once again send a living organism to space. (This time it’s packing a spacecraft with yeast rather than astronauts to test the effect of deep-space radiation on DNA and DNA repair.)
Exploiting the romance of space travel, Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire with tickets for the SpaceX moon mission, is taking applications for a plus-one to accompany him on the trip—and in life.
Space travel as the new norm
Space will soon open up an entirely new travel market for those bored with the current options on our planet — many of which have now become boresome because they have been Instagrammed to death.
Space tourism is taking off, thanks to the billions which have been poured into space exploration initiatives by venture funds and billionaires like Richard Branson, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk. Branson’s Virgin Galactic will start its first commercial flights in late 2020, as will Blue Origin, which is backed by Amazon.
Blue Origin is also collaborating with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Draper in an attempt to build a lunar landing system to meet the US government’s goal of taking humans to the moon once more.
By 2024, the space tourism market is expected to be worth $1.18bn. That kind of travel doesn’t come cheap, though. A trip to the International Space Station will cost around $35,000 per day, while a return ticket will cost around $60m.
Tap into the space craze
Meanwhile, here on earth, the starry-eyed among us can still get our (more affordable) fix.
It’s not just in travel that brands are tapping into the space craze. Businesses are getting on board in advertising and marketing. Just last month, space travel and sci-fi were back in vogue for brands at the Super Bowl. At least four brands — Olay, SodaStream, Turkish Airlines and Walmart — aired ads tying into the themes of space exploration and aliens, setting the tone for the next era of digital communications.
‘Think space bars, space drinks, space fashion and space furniture’
We can also expect space to become a greater part of pop culture — not just in movies but in the beauty, fashion, design and music industries — as all begin to adopt space-inspired products. Think space bars, space drinks, space fashion and space furniture. And beauty brands like Milk Makeup and Glamglow have started using mineral-rich meteorite powder in their products.
It seems apparent that people are more willing to buy a product if it has been inspired by technology developed for or in space. This can be seen on Pinterest, where folks have been busy pinning astrology-themed parties, space tattoos, constellation piercings, galaxy painting, intergalactic makeup and clothing with the NASA logo.
The platform recommends that brands play into astrology’s rise in popularity with “What’s your sign?” product lines or menus. Keep an eye out for the use of satellites across marketing and environmental fields.
Beyond space: creating purpose
The outer space craze isn’t just about gimmicks and clickbait. Space has an integral part to play in the wider story of more sustainable, meaningful brands.
We’re now using images and video from space to show infrastructure development, as well as environmental damage like the wildfires in Australia and New Zealand. What’s clear is that we cannot use space exploration as an escape hatch so we don’t have to confront what we’ve done on our own planet. We should pay just as much attention to preserving life here and not repeating our mistakes in the next frontier.
So, while the concept of space in brand communications isn’t new, it has come and gone numerous times over the decades, the space craze is now here to stay as this once untouchable frontier viewed only from our TV sets and telescopes, becomes a touchable reality.
And because space is borderless and country agnostic, part of its beauty is its ability to unite people from all walks of life, from all around the world, in a common quest for adventure and for what’s beyond.
In the current climate of political polarity across the globe and the breakdown of social and cultural cohesion, the power of Brand Space to unite and ignite our imaginations may be more valuable than ever.
James Wright is global CEO of content agency Red Havas, whose clients include Kellogg’s, Greggs and HM Government