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  • Writer's pictureSarah Pousho

Leveraging Space Mission Sponsorships for Brand Alignment–Not Reach

As a boutique advisory firm helping brand sponsors connect with space mission organizers focused on exploration, science, and education objectives, we are frequently asked, “what kind of audience reach will I get from this sponsorship?” Honestly, if that is your metric for a successful partnership, then–for a number of reasons–perhaps space is not the best place for you. Instead, a successful space partnership should focus more on brand alignment via a strategically crafted activation program.


REACH v. ALIGNMENT

The epitome of the “audience reach” metric for brand sponsorships are global sporting events such as the World Cup and the Olympics, with the American football Super Bowl and baseball World Series not far behind. While these are at the top end of the spectrum, they represent the notion that paying money for these sponsorships will get your product, service, or company in front of an audience that may be interested in what you have to offer. In that way, you can probably quantifiably measure the ROI from your financial (or in-kind) sponsorship.


However, this is just one type of sponsorship approach. While it is the most easily justifiable to corporate decision makers, it is not always the most effective to achieve your strategic marketing objectives.


More often you, your team, and your agency partners can be better served by finding properties that embody or enhance your company’s brand values in such a way that activating the sponsorship amplifies your own marketing, advertising, CSR, sales, and/or employee initiatives. 


For example, if yours is a tech company that strongly promotes “disruptive innovation” in your own messaging, then you might get more of a significant marketing “lift” by sponsoring a local/regional/national high school student technology innovation competition (with limited audience reach) than any other type of sponsorship, especially if you invest heavily in your activation plan. In these cases, it is much more important to find a value-aligned property than one with quantified audience reach. And this is where sponsoring a space mission can play a significant role.


SPACE MISSION SPONSORSHIPS

We work with universities, nonprofit organizations, small civil space agencies, and the occasional startup venture that are organizing space missions with exploration, science, and education objectives. Almost by definition given how little humanity knows about the universe around us, these are typically first-time endeavors that have never been attempted before. Asking the mission organizers about “audience reach” metrics simply does not make sense, since there are very few–if any–historical comps to draw upon.

However, space is such an awe-inspiring and widely popular field that there are few better alternatives for aligning your company’s brand with a significant event. 

Imagine sponsoring a robotic mission to discover signs of microbial life in the Venusian atmosphere, to look for otherwise invisible asteroids on the far side of the Sun, or to make the first dive into the unexplored oceans of moons around Jupiter and Saturn.

Of course, this depends entirely on your own brand’s values and your planned marketing strategy, but hopefully you can envision the myriad activation possibilities for these types of sponsorships.


ACTIVATING YOUR SPACE SPONSORSHIP

This is a huge topic that probably deserves its own post in the future, but for now let’s just say that one advantage to sponsoring a space mission is that organizers can be extremely accommodating to your company’s interests. (Of course, within safety and operational parameters.)


Incorporating your branding into the mission vehicles and promotional materials is an important step, but only just the beginning. Depending on your marketing initiatives (and your level of financial support), there are a number of other potential activation possibilities, including:


  • Customized collateral (imagery, videos, audio, etc.)

  • Product placement

  • Integrated technology development or scientific research

  • VIP facility tours

  • In-person visits to launch and mission operations center

  • Talks from mission leadership to your team, customers, investors, and partners

  • … and so much more


As with any other significant partnership, you and your agencies can work with mission organizers to create a mutually beneficial sponsorship activation plan, so each relationship can be customized to meet your strategic objectives.


CONCLUSION

Sponsoring a space mission can add significant value and incredible editorial authority to your marketing program, but probably not if your primary success metric is “audience reach”. Instead, focusing on “brand alignment” will more likely help you gain the most leverage from such a unique partnership. Depending on your brand’s values, space sponsorship could represent one of the most effective ways to achieve your objectives. Hopefully we’ll see your company as part of the next major space mission!

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