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Marketing the Moon

In July 1969, ninety-four percent of American televisions were tuned to coverage of Apollo 11’s mission to the Moon. How did space exploration, once the purview of rocket scientists, reach a larger audience than Laugh-In? Why did a government program whose standard operating procedure had been secrecy turn its greatest achievement into a communal experience? In Marketing the Moon, David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek tell the story of one of the most successful marketing and public relations campaigns in history: the selling of the Apollo program.

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Marketing the Moon

Primed by science fiction, magazine articles, and appearances by Wernher von Braun on the “Tomorrowland” segments of the Disneyland prime time television show, Americans were a receptive audience for NASA’s pioneering “brand journalism” and “content marketing.” Scott and Jurek describe sophisticated efforts by NASA and its many contractors to market the facts about space travel—through press releases, bylined articles, lavishly detailed background materials, and fully produced radio and television features—rather than push an agenda. American astronauts, who signed exclusive agreements with Life magazine, became the heroic and patriotic faces of the program. And there was some judicious product placement: Hasselblad was the “first camera on the Moon”; Sony cassette recorders and supplies of Tang were on board the capsule; and astronauts were equipped with the Exer-Genie personal exerciser. Everyone wanted a place on the bandwagon.

Generously illustrated with vintage photographs, documents, and advertisements, many never published before, Marketing the Moon shows that when Neil Armstrong took that giant leap for mankind, it was a triumph not just for American engineering and rocketry but for American marketing and public relations.

“Marketing the Moon is a story of the challenges and ultimate success of marketing one of the greatest achievements in American— and world—history.”
– Captain Eugene A. Cernan, Commander, Apollo 17, from the foreword

“Marketing the Moon is a fascinating look at how NASA and its partners brought the Moon to the world’s living rooms. Apollo’s revered place in the collective imagination stems, in large part, from the efforts detailed in this book.”
– Fritz Johnston, Vice President, Brand and Advertising, The Boeing Company

“Don’t think for a moment that NASA masterminded a PR campaign that brought the Apollo missions into our living rooms. Just like everything else about the Moon program, how — and how much — to share Apollo with the public was a learn-as-you-go affair that involved not only NASA’s public affairs office but top NASA managers and even astronauts. As this excellent and informative book details, even the idea of live television from the Moon was a matter of heated debate, and there were moments when it might’ve gone the other way. Thank heaven it didn’t: When humans first voyaged to the moon, they took the world along.”
– Andrew Chaikin,, author of A Man on the Moon

“To call the Apollo Program the greatest marketing exploit of the 20th century is not hyperbole, but, as David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek show us, simply a statement of fact. Thanks to this thorough and detailed account, we can better understand not just the talent and dedication of the Mad Men-era professionals who sold the Moon to a global public, but also the larger transformation of statecraft into stagecraft, and the enduring and irreversible transformation of the public sphere into an enterprise of image creation, and manipulation.”
– Nicholas de Monchaux, Associate Professor of Architecture and Urban Design, University of California, Berkeley, and author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo

“We have long known that NASA mobilized a broad public relations campaign supporting the Apollo program of the 1960s. We have not known until now, with the publication of Marketing the Moon by David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek, the details of the campaign. Scott and Jurek offer a compelling account of these great efforts, informed by interviews with many of the participants, and well-illustrated by unique imagery and documents.”
– Roger D. Launius, Senior Curator, Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum

“President Kennedy hoped the nation would succeed in sending a man into space and landing on the Moon. Though he did not live to see it happen, his dream was fulfilled. David Meerman Scott and Richard Jurek’s *Marketing the Moon* shows us in vivid detail what it took to make this happen. This is one of the great stories of the 20th century.”
– Alan Brinkley, Allan Nevins Professor of American History, Columbia University