The Creative Idea
Our approach to Launch America was three prong: bringing 60 years worth of NASA’s past achievements back into relevance through the opening title sequence; firmly situating NASA in the present moment through an updated, modernized, and modular broadcast graphics package; and re-positioning NASA as a leader for future missions through broad awareness of the Commercial Crew and Artemis Programs. We framed Launch America so the viewing experience would carry the weight and importance of national news programming with the enjoyment and participatory feel of a spectator sport broadcast-event. Amidst a global pandemic that we talk about global pandemic and the necessity of being able to reach massive audiences on screen for a set of events that A) are difficult to illustrate without being there to witness impact (launches) and b) do not have the luxury of high production value in the environment where a lot of it takes place over multiple days. (Coast time)
Very few projects can claim a serious target audience of “the entire world”, however this one did. NASA had not launched American astronauts into orbit to the International Space Station from the United States in almost a decade, so it was critical to reach a cross-generational American audience. However, the mission was also centered around the ISS, meaning it carried broader global importance and implications. When developing the show open, careful attention was paid to honoring historic international moments, and with the broadcast graphics package, there was a consideration for utilizing a color palette that alluded to the United States, but avoided heavy-handed patriotism. We utilized a color palette consisting of the red and blue from the NASA Meatball logo and a cool gray with white being reserved for tertiary elements such as text or logos.
With no previous playbook for rocket launch events of this magnitude, every detail had to be considered. From a wide range of on-screen technical graphics with the goal of disseminating information to contingency messaging for unplanned events, we created hundreds of broadcast graphics variations for the NASA team to use during Launch America events. From kick-off to completion, we had 60 days to develop a visual identity that included brand identity, social and print assets, on air team wardrobe and a 100-ft banner for placement on the VAB. A primary goal for the Launch America broadcast package was modularity, allowing for multiple Commercial Crew Partners like SpaceX to be represented in all aspects of the work across a multi-year program. We successfully created a scalable event platform that restores NASA to the forefront of the public eye during these historic launches but also gives Commercial Crew Partners prominent visibility.
The most-watched event NASA has ever tracked, with 198 million views on YouTube alone, and an unprecedented estimated reach score of over 54 BILLION. Notably, this was achieved through 100% earned media (with an estimated paid media value of $621 million). The campaign saw 547k mentions on social media, 29k published news stories, 1850 news stories from top media outlets, 68 newspaper front pages, 12.3 million shares on social media, 1.1 million new subscribers to the NASA email newsletter, and 4 million new followers across NASA social accounts. Finally, over 250 Tweets by members of Congress mentioned NASA and the Launch America. Owing to massive public sentiment, reach and engagement, the campaign is a rousing success: the Artemis program is the single area of the preceding Presidential Administration’s policy endorsed by the Biden Administration: the first major deep-space human exploration effort with funding to survive a change in U.S. presidents since the Apollo Program.