In July 1969, ninety-four percent of American televisions were tuned to coverage of Apollo 11’s mission to the moon. How did space exploration, once the purview of rocket scientists, reach a larger audience than My Three Sons? Why did a government program whose standard operating procedure had been secrecy turn its greatest achievement into a communal experience? In Marketing the Moon, David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek tell the story of one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program.
Primed by science fiction, magazine articles, and appearances by Wernher von Braun on the “Tomorrowland" segments of the Disneyland prime time television show, Americans were a receptive audience for NASA’s pioneering “brand journalism." Scott and Jurek describe sophisticated efforts by NASA and its many contractors to market the facts about space travel—through press releases, bylined articles, lavishly detailed background materials, and fully produced radio and television features—rather than push an agenda. American astronauts, who signed exclusive agreements with Life magazine, became the heroic and patriotic faces of the program. And there was some judicious product placement: Hasselblad was the “first camera on the moon"; Sony cassette recorders and supplies of Tang were on board the capsule; and astronauts were equipped with the Exer-Genie personal exerciser. Everyone wanted a place on the bandwagon.
Generously illustrated with vintage photographs, artwork, and advertisements, many never published before, Marketing the Moon shows that when Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind, it was a triumph not just for American engineering and rocketry but for American marketing and public relations.
About the Authors
David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist and the author of three bestselling books, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, Real-Time Marketing, and Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead. He lives in Lexington, Massachuetts.
Richard Jurek has worked as a marketing and public relations executive for more than twenty years. He lives in Chicago.
“A well-written look at how NASA, industry, and the media covered the Apollo missions. . . . .Marketing the Moon provides a fascinating look at the marketing of humanity’s first missions to the Moon, as well as a reminder that space exploration, including first-of-their-kind missions to other worlds in our solar system, do not sell themselves.”—Jeff Foust, The Space Review
“The book tells an entertaining and engaging story, but there’s a lot to learn from here, as well...And it’s a beautiful book. Lavishly illustrated, it’s a book for the coffee table, the office desk, the lobby. Full-page illustrations; covers and excerpts of glossy magazines from the era, as well as full-page ‘asides’ on related topics: Disney’s Tomorrowland; the ‘50s sci-fi television series Space Patrol; Soviet Russian efforts to inspire with elaborate futuristic space films of their own. And much more...The text boxes and asides are just as fascinating and informative as the main narrative itself. And it’s impeccably researched: from how reporters with low-budget media improvised launch coverage, to how contractors ingeniously pioneered new methods of colour photography. The authors leave no stone unturned - not even moon rocks, whose complicated fate in international diplomacy they chronicle as well. Those with an interest in marketing and complex project management will find the book particularly interesting, but it’s accessible for the general public and will enthrall any space enthusiast.”—PopMatters
“The book is a highly illustrated tour-de-force of the particular way government and industry grabbed the attention of the media and, at first without planning it, wooed the public and seduced print and electronic news channels to get behind the biggest message of the day.”—David Baker, Spaceflight
“U.S. government goes “Mad Men” on Apollo, gets it right.”—Tyler Cohen, New York Times Magazine
“Scott and Jurek devote a whole chapter of “Marketing the Moon”—which, it should be noted, overflows with beautiful photographs, drawings, and illustrations—to the broadcast and reporting of the Apollo 11 moon landing. The main thing, they show, was that it was live—and that its liveness embodied, in itself, the bravery and risk of the mission. Gene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon, describes it this way: "We didn’t say, ‘We’ll tell you about it in two weeks.’ We took you with us. The power of television is unbelievable. That’s what television does. What you are seeing is happening at this instant. … [T]he thing that brought so much prestige to this country is that every launch, every landing on the Moon, and every walk on the Moon was given freely to the world in real time. We didn’t doctor up the movie, didn’t edit anything out; what was said was said." CBS covered the Apollo 11 landing for thirty-two continuous hours; it set up special screens in Central Park so that people could watch in a crowd. Ninety-four per cent of TV-owning American households tuned in. Without television, the moon landing would have been a merely impressive achievement—an expensive stunt, to the cynical. Instead, seen live, unedited, and everywhere, it became a genuine experience of global intimacy.”—Joshua Rothman, The New Yorker
“Something profound had changed since the early days of the heroic, untouchable space heroes. In Marketing the Moon, David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek do a masterful job defining that something and placing it within a much broader exploration of how the U.S. space program acquired such mythic status in the first place—before it abruptly, sadly crumbled away. Along the way, the authors achieve something I doubted was possible: They provide fresh and important insights into the Apollo program, nearly half a century after the fact.”—Corey S. Powell, American Scientist
“If you're interested in the public affairs side of the Apollo era, I’d highly recommend Marketing the Moon. It dives into one of the least often discussed but vitally important aspects of bringing a lunar mission from concept to reality.”—Amy Shira Teitel, Popular Science
“I'd like to sing the praises of large-format, image-heavy historical books that are creative in approach and gorgeous to peruse. . . . As a gift for anyone who’s interested in space or the history of advertising, Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek) will fascinate. The book chronicles the extensive effort made to get the Apollo program favorable press coverage, and to explain the science behind the effort to the public. (I ran images of two tracking wheels, distributed to press to provide technical context for the missions, on this blog in May.) Its pages include many reproductions of materials from press kits, television broadcasts, and advertisements.”—Rebecca Onion, Slate
“Marketing the Moon is a fascinating look at how NASA and its partners brought the Moon to the world’s living rooms. Apollo’s revered place in the collective imagination stems, in large part, from the efforts detailed in this book.”
—Fritz Johnston, Vice President, Brand and Advertising, The Boeing Company
“Don’t think for a moment that NASA masterminded a PR campaign that brought the Apollo missions into our living rooms. Just like everything else about the Moon program, how—and how much—to share Apollo with the public was a learn-as-you-go affair that involved not only NASA’s public affairs office but top NASA managers and even astronauts. As this excellent and informative book details, even the idea of live television from the Moon was a matter of heated debate, and there were moments when it might’ve gone the other way. Thank heaven it didn’t: When humans first voyaged to the moon, they took the world along.”
—Andrew Chaikin, author of A Man on the Moon
“To call the Apollo Program the greatest marketing exploit of the 20th century is not hyperbole, but, as David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek show us, simply a statement of fact. Thanks to this thorough and detailed account, we can better understand not just the talent and dedication of the Mad Men-era professionals who sold the Moon to a global public, but also the larger transformation of statecraft into stagecraft, and the enduring and irreversible transformation of the public sphere into an enterprise of image creation, and manipulation.”
—Nicholas de Monchaux, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo
“We have long known that NASA mobilized a broad public relations campaign supporting the Apollo program of the 1960s. We have not known until now, with the publication of Marketing the Moon by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek, the details of the campaign. Scott and Jurek offer a compelling account of these great efforts, informed by interviews with many of the participants, and well-illustrated by unique imagery and documents.”
—Roger D. Launius, Senior Curator, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum
“President Kennedy hoped the nation would succeed in sending a man into space and landing on the Moon. Though he did not live to see it happen, his dream was fulfilled. David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek’s Marketing the Moon shows us in vivid detail what it took to make this happen. This is one of the great stories of the 20th century.”
—Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of American History, Columbia University