When it comes to crowdfunding NASA, the sky's the limit.
At least that's what a group from the aerospace industry was hoping for when it created an IndieGoGo campaign to fund a NASA PSA to be aired before showings of this summer's Star Trek Into Darkness.
“NASA recently made an inspiring new online video narrated by Mr. Peter Cullen, the voice of Optimus Prime, to show the progress being made on these new systems, but the agency is barred by law from buying advertising time for such a spot,” states the campaign page. “Today we’re running a crowdfunding campaign to edit this video into a 30-second spot, and place it in over 50 movie theater screens around the country.”
The movie trailer, titled "We Are The Explorers," currently runs close to three minutes but will be edited down thanks to the success of the campaign.
“We did it! There is no doubt now: ads for our space program will be premiering with “Star Trek Into Darkness” in major cities around the country!" according to the campaign page. The initial goal of $33,000 was reached in just six days, with donations topping out at $42,036 at press time.
The next challenge—raise funding to $94,000 expanding the movie screens from 59 to 750 for the PSA to run for eight weeks starting with the theatrical premiere on May 17th.
brandchannel spoke with Dan Hendrickson, Director, Space Systems of the Aerospace Industries Association of America (AIA), who designed the campaign on why it remains so hard for NASA to capture the hearts and minds (and funding) of the average American.
“Campaigns like this one demonstrate that the average American is actually quite passionate about the space program. We’ve had over 1,300 donors in just 7 days put down their own money to publicize space programs for our students and young people. I can’t imagine another government agency garnering this kind of overwhelming support and public ownership," Hendrickson said. “A continuing challenge for us however, is communicating the actual funding levels NASA receives. Many believe the space agency receives a large fraction of federal funding, when in fact it receives less than half a penny on the dollar. Once people understand that NASA receives a near-negligible share of the federal budget, the real question becomes, “How can we afford not to fund NASA?”
While NASA is arguably Uncle Sam's biggest social media star, the brand has moved further into the shadows since federal funding was slashed in 2012, but Hendrickson points out that social media has had an important hand in keeping the NASA brand alive and relevant.
“NASA as a federal agency has been a leader in connecting to the public through social media. The recently successful Mars Rover Curiosity was a social media smash hit. The buzz generated through Twitter and Facebook led to numerous public meet-ups across the country—over a thousand people alone showed up in Times Square to follow Curiosity’s landing in the middle of the night," he said. "The agency’s social media performance thus far, demonstrates very clearly that social media makes a huge difference for the NASA brand.”
This campaign has certainly demonstrated its social prowess, as fans have spread the word across Facebook and Twitter.