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How Content Marketing Took the World to the Moon, and What It Teaches Us Today

by David Meerman Scott  |  
February 11, 2014

"We the United States of America."
—Captain Eugene A. Cernan, USN (ret.), the last man to walk on the moon. From the foreword to Marketing the Moon by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek.

It's easy to consider the story about the Apollo moon landing with a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era. But what's most interesting about the story is its surprising relevance for today's marketers. Here, our friend David Meerman Scott explains why, and he offers up a compelling look at how Apollo was arguably the first major real-time content marketing effort broadcast to a global, engaged audience. —Ann Handley 

Many marketers are over the moon about the "new" concept of content marketing (sometimes called "brand journalism"). As they should be! Content is great for SEO, it serves as fodder for sharing on social networks.

As MarketingProfs's own Ann Handley wrote in her book, Content Rules (which she wrote with C.C. Chapman, and for which I wrote the foreword), "Content positions you as an expert people will want to do business with."

While everybody was looking for the next big thing in content, I found inspiration by going back half a century.

With all the recent hoopla, few people realize that content marketing has been around for more than 50 years. In fact, the greatest story never told (until now) about content as a marketing tool is that it helped to deliver humans to the moon in the late 1960s and early 1970s. That fascinating story is perhaps the greatest marketing case study in human history, and it is the subject of my new book, releasing this week: Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program.

I wrote Marketing the Moon with Richard Jurek, president of Inland Marketing & Communications. Like me, Rich is a lifelong space enthusiast and a collector of historic space artifacts from the Apollo program. Captain Eugene A. Cernan wrote the foreward to Marketing the Moon. Flying to the Moon not once, but twice, Captain Cernan also holds the distinction of being the second American to walk in space and the last man to have left his footprints on the lunar surface. (Documentary film rights to Marketing the Moon are being optioned by Robert Stone Productions. Robert has had four films premiered at Sundance and an Academy Award nomination for Radio Bikini as best documentary film.)

It's been a blast to dig into marketing history by speaking with half the men who walked on the moon, NASA public affairs staff, the PR people from contractors like Boeing and Raytheon, and journalists from publications like The New York Post and Reuters—part of the hundreds and thousands of unsung participants from the golden age of spaceflight.

NASA's Pioneering Brand Journalism: Finding a Voice

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David Meerman Scott is a marketing strategist, entrepreneur, and partner in the sonic branding studio Signature Tones. He is the author of 10 books, including The New Rules of Marketing and PR, now in its 6th edition, with 350,000+ copies sold in English and available in 29 languages.

Twitter: @dmscott

LinkedIn: David Meerman Scott

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  • by Wendy Croxford Tue Feb 11, 2014 via web

    Great article. I like the way you have illustrated the struggle they had with getting the camera on board, up against engineers and astronauts who didn't see the benefit of the live television, and the public seeing the moon mission in real time. I still have trouble in proving the benefits of social media. Not much has changed since since in the last 50 years!

  • by David Meerman Scott Wed Feb 12, 2014 via web

    Hi Wendy, Thank you.

    I see a definite parallel here. People are scared of things that are unfamiliar and new. And that has affected communications going back 50 years. So we're not the first ones to struggle with getting the bosses to understand.

  • by Jhon stiffler Sat Mar 1, 2014 via web

    Wow that is cool I love it..

  • by Kimmy Burgess Sat Mar 22, 2014 via web

    Wow this article is truly eye opener under the current scenario, where technology has brought enough required changes in telecommunication as well as scientific field. But i believe that we need to take advantages of this welcome changes, So that every business can prosper through the usage of best technology.

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