Monday, September 24, 2012

More Fun than a Barrel of Chris Hadfield's!!!

Once, a very long time ago, all that an astronaut needed to become famous was to be an astronaut. But today, experts from the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) marketing department are leaving nothing to chance.

Better than "Magnum PI."

They've laboured night and day to create the veritable meteor shower of marketing they feel is necessary in order to properly promote astronaut Chris Hadfield's upcoming trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

And while the September 24th, 2012 Canadian Press article "Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield launch to space station pushed back two weeks" may state that the trip has been tentatively rescheduled to December 19th, there is certainly nothing "tentative" about these current CSA marketing initiatives.

They focus on music, cardboard cutouts, various types of food (one of which is even called "Holy Crap" and is supposedly good for regularity) but seem to miss out on some of the more traditional and structured science discussions. Here are a few of the more interesting campaigns:

  • According to the September 14th, 2012 Associated Press article "Astronaut Chris Hadfield plans some guitar jams in space," the 53 year old top pilot graduate from the USAF test pilot school has plans to do "some serious space jamming during his six-month visit to the International Space Station." According to the article, Hadfield and his crew mates, NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn and Russian cosmonaut Roman Romanenko "are all avid guitar players." Even better, the Canadian commander is teaming up with the Barenaked Ladies' Ed Robertson to write, record and perform a song while the former is orbiting in space. As demonstrated in the above video with Robertson, when Hadfield gets going on the guitar, he's not half bad.

  • According to the August 29th, 2012 CSA press release "Montreal Band Simple Plan Launches their "Astronaut" into Space" Hadfield has also agreed to play a song from Montreal based band Simple Plan while aboard the ISS. The article quotes Hadfield, who has flown over 70 different types of military and civilian aircraft, as stating that "Canadians have written some of my favorite music. I look forward to floating weightless by the Cupola window, up high across Canada, playing and singing songs from Lightfoot to Simple Plan...a wonderful way to stay close to home."
An image from the "Chris Hadfield World Tour Photo Challenge" on the CSA website.
  • Of course, Hadfield can't be everywhere at once and the CSA marketing department has even tried to take this into account. Why else would a two dimensional, life sized photo of our iconic Canadian astronaut be needed to compete for the "Chris Hadfield World Tour Photo Challenge?" As described on the CSA promotional website, the contest ("the CSA's first-ever photo contest for the general public") involves taking a picture of a cardboard cutout of Hadfield at a "participating" institution. Three lucky prize winners will receive a mission t-shirt "signed by Chris Hadfield" and the grand prize winner will have "the chance to virtually meet Chris Hadfield during a private discussion via Webcast." Unfortunately, the lack of an actual Hadfield to add context and gravitas into the proceedings, tends to make the entire contest look just a tiny bit silly.

  • But  of course, very few marketing initiatives can top a campaign where you've allowed to say "holy crap" over and over and over again. The context for this initiative is outlined in the August 28th, 2012 CSA press release "Winning Canadian Foods to Fly in Space" which outlines twelve new Canadian food choices being taken along by Hadfield for his ISS trip. The final twelve, winners out of a field of 150 recipes from thirty nine Canadians participating in the Canadian Snacks for Space contest, include candied wild smoked salmon, smoked salmon pate, cranberry buffalo stix, dried apple chunks, fruit bars, green tea cookies with orange zest, maple syrup cookies, organic chocolate, honey drops, chocolate bars, maple syrup and the incredible "Holy Crap" cereal, shown above being highlighted in a 2010 episode of "Dragons Den." As quoted by Hadfield on the CSA website "sharing this food will not only lift our spirits, but it will also give me the chance to tell the crew a little bit about the diversity and richness of the natural and cultural landscapes of Canada."
While certainly amusing, only time will tell if these current promotions raise the profile of the CSA.

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