Should Australian marketers be making space for space in their 2024 strategies?

“The opportunity to take your brand to the stars, whether a small step or a giant leap, is perhaps only one conversation away.”

Written By: Tim Baggott
Published by: Media Week
Date: 19/12/2023

Australia is a key player in the global ‘space renaissance’, and marketers have an incredible opportunity to get involved, so what could the future hold for “space marketing”?

On December 6th, the ICC in Sydney played host to the 16th Australian Space Forum. As a self-confessed sci-fi nerd, I’ve always been intrigued by real-world developments and concepts related to space exploration and having recently delved into Australia’s thriving space startup ecosystem, I’ve been surprised and exhilarated to discover what’s going on so close to home.

Projected to grow to a $12 billion national industry by 2030, Australian space startups are involved in everything from navigation to spacesuit design and are located all over the country, with hubs in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Canberra. The AFR recently announced that communications startup, Fleet Space Technologies is “Australia’s fastest growing company”.

Keen to learn more about the Australian space sector and what it could mean for marketers, I spoke with Matt Ryall, CEO of Sydney-based space robotics startup Mawson Rovers, who confirmed a need – and want – for brands and marketers to help connect the initiatives and missions they’re involved in with the cultural conversation to capture the attention and imaginations of the public at large. It’s been over 50 years since the first moon landing captivated TV audiences around the world. In the age of the attention-economy, it is not a given that the next great moment in space exploration will have the same effect. This is where brands can both assist and stand to benefit from space marketing, but they have to get it right.

We’ve already witnessed decades of brands performing “space stunts”, mainly involving launching products into space (see Pizza Hut, Tesla and KitKat), and while there will obviously be a place for this tactic, brand involvement could go deeper. As space exploration becomes more decentralised, accessible and sustained, marketers could take a more nuanced, longer term approach, leveraging the incredible ongoing opportunities for innovative partnerships and powerful storytelling. And, now is the perfect time for brands to begin integrating authentically into the journey.

In October it was announced Prada is collaborating with Axiom Space to design the lunar spacesuits for NASA’s 2025 Artemis III mission. Artemis III will be the first crewed mission to the moon since the 70s and intends to be the first to place a woman and person of colour on the moon, putting Prada at the heart of a massive cultural story. It is these social and cultural space stories that provide the richest territory for brands to play.

How can we make the wonder and magic of space exploration more inclusive? How can we bring diverse audiences along for the ride, allowing them to engage with and feel a sense of ownership of these historic, generation-defining moments?

The Australian Space Agency (Yes, Australia has a national space agency) is already thinking this way, inviting Australian schools to propose and vote for the name of Australia’s first lunar rover. At the time of writing, the shortlist includes two Indigenous Australian names, ‘Coolamon’ and ‘Kakirra’, as well as the Australian cultural tenet ‘Mateship’, putting Australian language and culture into the global conversation surrounding the mission, from lead-up to launch and lunar landing. Also this year, Katherine Bennell-Pegg became the first Australian woman to be trained as an astronaut by an international space agency. She wants to use the experience to “inspire the pursuit of STEM careers and show all Australians that they too can reach for the stars.” Brands should be clamouring to partner with Katherine.

So, when it comes to Australian brands, where should your space marketing adventure start? As with any partnership, consider how brand values and product or service benefits align with the goals and interests of both the partner and the intended audience. Don’t just brand the story or moment; find ways to add value to it. Consider how you could enable your audience to do more than spectate. How could they participate? Ultimately, brands battling it out in space is inevitable, but we can choose how we do it. Let’s not dull the shine of something so steeped in wonder by approaching it from a purely self-serving perspective and see it for what it truly is: a chance to be a part of something that exemplifies human ingenuity, global cooperation and the ultimate manifestation of our innate desire to explore and achieve the impossible.

Your office is likely a stone’s throw from one of the many Australian startups or agencies involved in global space missions, and the opportunity to take your brand to the stars, whether a small step or a giant leap, is perhaps only one conversation away.

To read the full article, visit Media Week.