Alan_Bean_on_the_moonIf you work in marketing, you’ve no doubt heard of David Meerman Scott. He’s the author of a best-selling book about “the new rules of marketing and PR,” which has been translated into 25 languages. He wrote the foreword to the best book on inbound marketing, and he's also on the HubSpot advisory board.

What you may not know, however, is that Scott is obsessed with the Apollo space program, which culminated in the 1969 moon landing. That obsession led Scott and co-author Richard Jurek to publish “Marketing the Moon,” which tells the story of “one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program,” as the book’s publisher, The MIT Press, puts it.

The book contains fascinating interviews with astronauts and a foreword by Capt. Eugene Cernan, the last astronaut to walk on the moon; tales about rocket scientists like Wernher von Braun; and stories of brands that latched onto the space program in order to hawk everything from cameras to wristwatches to orange drink.

What marketers may appreciate most is that “Marketing the Moon” is also a meditation on the power of storytelling. “This was NASA doing content marketing, back before Mark Zuckerberg was even born,” Scott says. “This is part of the moon program story that’s never been told before."

“Marketing the Moon” is published in coffee-table format (11 x 9.5 inches) to accommodate a gorgeous collection of photographs and illustrations – 210 color, 25 black-and-white – many of which are taken from Scott's and Jurek's personal collections of Apollo memorabilia.

“I’ve been wanting to do a book like this for five years, intersecting my two passions, the Apollo program and marketing,” Scott says.

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Selling Space

An incredible team of PR and public affairs people both inside NASA and from industry worked together to sell the story of the moon program to the general public. What’s more, those PR people were up against a powerful faction inside NASA that did not want to do any promotion, and did not even want to bring TV equipment on the mission.

“They said, `These astronauts will be busy, and the last thing we want is to have them fiddling with TV cameras when they’re doing important space work.’ But other factions realized that this was probably the most important legacy of the entire Apollo moon program, that we could share with the American public, who foot the bill for the program, what was happening on the surface of the moon," Scott says.

This was revolutionary at the time, Scott explains. Previously, NASA had kept rocket launches secret.

For those of us who remember those launches from the 1960s, “Marketing the Moon” provides a reminder of a time that seems more innocent and more hopeful than the present day. Scott and Jurek have already sold the movie rights.

David_Meerman_Scott_1Scott says the moon program provides lots of lessons for marketers. “There is a lot we can do by working together rather than working separately,” Scott says. “That partnership between NASA and industry was amazing. We as marketers can learn from the idea that you can put together a partnership with another organization and achieve something bigger than yourself.”

The NASA marketers created elaborate press kits, as did companies that had contributed to the space program. “Each one wanted to tell their particular story of what they did to make some little part or widget that an astronaut used, and why that’s important,” Scott says.

Scott and Jurek are both avid collectors of Apollo memorabilia, and together have the one of the best collections of press-related materials from space the program.

“What strikes me as I’m looking through all these materials I own is just the power of content,” Scott says. “It was content that 45 years ago sold the Apollo program. It was a story that sold the Apollo program, a story that we were going to land on the moon before the end of the decade. What a powerful story! And I think the power of story and the power of content is equally important for marketers today.”

The book is filled with breathtaking images. Here are just a few:

Astronaut Alan Shepard was in the anti-publicity camp

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Tang, a fruit-flavored drink, got a boost from the space program

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Disney created Tomorrowland

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To learn more about "Marketing the Moon," check out the beautiful website, marketingthemoon.com, that Scott and Jurek created for the project.

Originally published Feb 11, 2014 9:30:00 AM, updated February 11 2014