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Back in 2015, a creative team of visual strategists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory known as "The Studio" created a 14 poster space tourism series called "Visions of the Future” about exoplanets – planets orbiting other stars – to celebrate NASA's study of them.
Designed in the style of the old posters the Works Progress Administration (WPA) created for the national parks, each poster advertised a specific scientific aspect of that planet (dual suns, supergravity, raining glass) and the opportunity to visit someday in the future via the fictional Exoplanet Travel Bureau. I got four of the first prints, then the second series, and have them all framed in my office.
Sci-fi and far-future-inspired space tourism posters aren’t new, of course – here’s a Pinterest board of spaceports, cruises, climbing frozen crags of Uranus, and more. But the fact that actual space tourism IS A THING is new.
Companies—including Elon Musk’s SpaceX (founded “with the ultimate goal of enabling people to live on other planets”), Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin, Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic, real estate investor Robert Bigelow’s Bigelow Aerospace and California-based XCOR Aerospace—seem closer to realizing the dream of everyday space tourism than you probably realize. - The New Republic
So here’s what’s fascinating about my feeds in the last month — they have been filled with Virgin Galactic ads about going to outer space in a non-ironic or sci-fi way.
Reservations for the first 1,000 customers opened up February 16. It costs $450,000 and nets you a 90 minute flight initiating at Spaceport America in New Mexico. You can argue how close to “space” it really is, but you certainly can get a view of the Earth unlike any other.
"The spaceship gracefully flips while astronauts enjoy several minutes of out-of-seat weightlessness and breath-taking views of Earth from the spaceship’s 17 windows," reads a statement from the company. - USA Today
Here’s a look at the current ads…
What do these copy tests from a “real” space tourism company say about the target audience of millionaires and billionaires in advertising a trip to outer space? A lot.
Will leaving Earth bring you closer to it?
Space for the curious.
Will realizing your dream inspire a new one?
Will outer space bring you inner peace?
Experience the calm of space and the profound shift in perspective that comes from seeing East. Reserve your seat today.
Fewer than 700 people have felt the boundless wonder of floating in space. Reserve now while seats are still available.
There are few things as transformative as seeing East from above. Reserve your seat to experience something extraordinary.
You can see some themes here: escapism, finding oneself, discovering purpose, and buying an experience nobody else can.
And while it may seem from these ads that the 1% who have $450,000 to burn on a 90 minute spaceflight are out of touch with Earth, lack inner peace, and are in need of transformation, these are actually needs every citizen of Earth has. And yes, there’s a war happening that raises our collective awareness of these needs even more today. Note: these ads weren’t paused last week when I took these screenshots but were eventually paused this week.
What these ads are selling is access to The Overview Effect. The overview effect is a cognitive shift in awareness reported by some astronauts during spaceflight, often while viewing the Earth from outer space. It is the experience of seeing first-hand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, "hanging in the void,” shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. The effect may also invoke a sense of transcendence and connection with humanity as a whole, from which national borders appear petty.
President Obama penned a stirring editorial in 2016 that made mention of this emotional view of our home planet and its impact:
“When our Apollo astronauts looked back from space, they realized that while their mission was to explore the moon, they had in fact discovered the Earth.” – President Barack Obama, October 11, 2016
When I was at space150 we developed a VR experience that facilitated a similar experience for Conde Nast Traveler’s Future of Travel. It documented what it will be like to return back to Earth after visiting Mars — seeing that pale blue dot for the first time and really looking at its fragility and possibility. The result was jaw-dropping, emotional, and stayed with you afterward. The overview effect reframes your perspective and changes you forever.
I don’t have the cash to go to space at the moment (hint hint), but after seeing these ads and thinking about them quite a lot in the past couple of weeks, I do believe that leaving Earth could you bring you closer to it.
My hope is our species continues to find ways to solve the problems on-planet while exploring opportunities off-planet. If there was a sustainable, accessible way to give more people a look at the Overview Effect and realize we’re all together in this, I think a lot of good could come from that. It’s not the only way, but it certainly is becoming a way. Time to start up some scholarships, billionaries!
In the meantime, I’m excited to consume more and more “real” ads about space exploration — getting the sci-fi off my walls and into my feeds. -Greg
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🤠 SXSW! Let’s Hang Out!
Planning to go to South by Southwest (SXSW) in Austin, Texas next week? Hit me up and let’s find a way to connect. And I’m organizing the 3rd Annual Minnesota Meetup this year, which you should come to. Even if you aren't from Minnesota, you are invited. That's what Minnesota Nice is all about. Details and RSVP here.
And thank you to the Minnesota Interactive Marketing Association (MIMA), for stepping in to pick up the first drinks. MIMA is the longest-standing digital marketing association in the country and creates opportunities for digital marketers in Minnesota to collaborate and learn from one another. Learn more and attend an event at MIMA.org.
And if this is your first SXSW, I wrote you this: SXSW First-Timer Advice for 2022
🔥 Quick Hits
TikTok made ‘Encanto’ the first Disney hit of the streaming age.
Roblox currency ‘Robux’ was outperforming the Ruble.
TikTok expanded time to 10 minutes up from 3 minutes.
LinkedIn wants to normalize career breaks with new feature.
Bandcamp is joining Epic Games.
Insta announce auto-generated captions in IG Feed videos.
March is Women’s History Month, and Pinterest is marking the occasion with a new inititaive within its Pinterest Elevates program.
A new patent granted to Apple is suggesting that their AR device may not need prescription lenses thanks to its auto-adjustment technology.
A new SMB study found that almost half (49%) of small businesses are increasing their social media marketing efforts as “post-COVID trends” recognize a surge in daily social media usage.
In a Kantar study, 73% of respondents said they would ‘stop and look’ at ads on TikTok with audio, which is significantly higher than the rate on any other platform.
Read of the Week: You don’t need to post through a crisis.
Ukraine Read of the Week: Watching the World’s First TikTok War.
Podcast of the Week: Low Culture Boil’s “TikTok is the New Fashion Week.”
Video of the Week: VIVERSE --- A Day in the Metaverse with VR, AR, AI, 5G & NFTs.
TikTok of the Week: There I ruined it.
See you on the internet!
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