Nasa Hubble Telescope Birthday Campaign
Campaigns

Creative Campaigns #12 – Check What NASA Saw On Your Birthday

If you think that your campaign won’t do well right now because it’s not Covid-19 related, you’d be wrong. Recently, to celebrate its 30th birthday, NASA Hubble launched a neat little campaign which meant that you could find out what it saw on your one of your birthdays.

Amidst a truly awful time, Nasa Hubble’s campaign is living proof that you can still run with a campaign and see it become successful. Launched in the middle of the pandemic, the initiative still managed to rack up a great deal of media attention, both in the press and on socials. Not to mention it resulted in some pretty cool search statistics, which I’ll move on to in a little while.

But first, let me tell you about this campaign.

Nasa Hubble’s 30th Birthday Campaign

Nasa Hubble, a large telescope in space which was launched in 1990, recently celebrated its 30th birthday. Much like other Nasa technology, it’s hard not to get attached to these devices. Can anybody remember Nasa Opportunity and its ‘heartbreaking’ final words spoken in 2019 before being lost to a Martian dust storm? After nearly 16 years of life, it said: “My battery is low and it’s getting dark” as its final farewell and I won’t lie, I more than likely got a little teary. There’s a reason that we become so attached to these inanimate object, but more on that soon.

Therefore, it’s no surprise that when a famed piece of Nasa technology has a landmark birthday, we want to get involved. What better a way to do this than to join in on the celebrations, so to speak?

A timely and amicable campaign, Nasa decided to release images taken by the Hubble that were linked to specific dates so that you can match up what it saw on one of your birthdays. There were at least 366 images uploaded to the tool, which meant that whatever date your birthday, Nasa Hubble had a capture to share with you. Here’s mine…

The Sky On My Birthday

Why This Campaign Worked Amidst A Pandemic

I’m a massive space geek, but I’m not alone. According to a U.S survey by E. Mazareanu in 2019, 52% of 18-34-year-olds were ‘moderately’ interested in space, and a further 24% of this age group said they were ‘very interested’. In short, most of us are intrigued by space to some degree.

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The share of people in the United States interested in space exploration in 2019, by age

I mentioned earlier that it’s very easy to get attached to certain spacecraft, there’s a certain psychology behind that. One of the reasons being as simple as when something is named, it’s easy to develop a certain affliction to it; it becomes sort of ‘humanistic’ to you – and therefore you form emotional bonds. Further to this, we’re naturally inclined to daydream about what we don’t understand, hence a vast majority of us have an interest in space.

So it’s quite unsurprising to know how well this campaign has done. Alongside an abundance of social shares and media stories, just look at the search interest for Nasa Hubble over the last 12 months…

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A pretty impressive spike, when you consider that the Hubble is 30 years old

Most space stories get our gears turning to some extent, but there are a few more reasons why I think this campaign did rather well, despite the horrific situation on our doorstep at the moment (namely the Coronavirus outbreak).

  • Shareable – if a campaign is shareable you’re on to a winner. Whether it’s a link building campaign, or a good old fashioned traditional PR effort, if your initative has the shareability-factor, then it’ll bring about far more benefits than coverage. Word of mouth is one of the, if not the, most effective methods of marketing. Create a campaign that’s shareable and you tick that box straight away. Because people have a certain affiliation with space and extraterrestrial technology, it’s very easy to become interested – and therefore want to share – anything relevant to this theme. What more, most of the photographs that Nasa Hubble churned up were super pretty, meaning that individuals would be inclined to share them even more so (myself included, if you peep my latest Instagram post). Get people talking about you and your brand, and your campaign will pretty much be an instant hit.
  • Optimistic – I mentioned we’re in the midst of a pandemic, yeah? Well that means that most of us are crying out for a bit of positivity. I’ve said it time and time again, now is not the time to cut back on communications, if anything it’s time to ramp it up. People are craving escapism and any sort of optimism they can get their hands on. Neat and nifty, this campaign by Nasa Hubble was largely unproblematic and very engaging. When you’re doing anything you can to escape all the negativity in the news and on social media, it’s very easy to want to stop the world and get off, take a journey into deep space, if you like. Nasa Hubble’s campaign allows you to do exactly that.
  • Inspiring – Back at it again with the psychology terms, Nasa Hubble’s campaign demonstrates how Albert Bandura’s Social Learning Theory works. In short, people are inclined to observe and imitate others. Applied to this campaign, because of the shareability aspect, what I think will be found with most people is that when they see another engaging with this campaign, they will want to too. The more people share their findings, the more people will want to get involved and try it out for themselves, meaning the wheel just keeps on turning; all the while promoting Nasa’s brand to the masses. I’m sure they won’t mind, but let me use my family as an example…
  • On brand – Talking of brand by the way, how on-brand is this campaign for Nasa? Yet another reason why, in my opinion, it really works. You can’t get much more ‘Nasa’ than a space telescope campaign – so it’s perfect for them. I’ve noticed more and more brands deviate away from their core business in a bid to market during Coronavirus, but really you should be looking for stories to tell that are relevant to your brand. Marketing with something irrelevant seems kind of redundant, and people will cotton on. The magic happens when you can build a clever campaign that’s super on-brand and that can either join in on the conversation, or penetrate it. Nasa have done the latter with the 30th birthday initiative, providing something that’s so powerfully on brand, but all the while engaging and interesting, that people have been quick to absorb it and share it. They’re living proof that you can still communicate right now, even if your message doesn’t strictly revolve around the dreaded C-word.

These are just a few reasons why I love this Nasa campaign. Truth be told, there’s several more. This is just one example from many that provide hope to an otherwise dreary situation – the proof that no matter how torrid the times, you can still communicate through them so long as your message is strong enough.

As always, let me know your thoughts in the comments below or on Twitter.

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