Brands often give away trips like a weekend in New York, but now Axe, the men’s grooming brand, has a giveaway that it can say, without hyperbole, is out of this world.
To promote a new line of products called Apollo, the Unilever brand will send 22 consumers into space. The former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, hired as a spokesman, announced the contest at a private media event at the Hayden Planetarium in Manhattan last week. The brand refers to the effort as the Axe Apollo Space Academy, or AASA, meant to rhyme with NASA.
Axe is contracting with the Space Expedition Corporation, which plans to begin conducting commercial flights on Lynx, a suborbital space plane, in 2014. The Lynx, which is being developed by XCOR Aerospace, will take off and land horizontally, like an airplane, and use rocket power to blast into space. It seats only the pilot and one passenger.
The Space Expedition Corporation, which reports having already sold more than 200 tickets for future spaceflights, usually charges $100,000 for each flight that Axe is giving away. Flights are planned to last about an hour, reach an altitude of 64 miles, and provide a weightlessness experience of about five to six minutes before the Lynx descends.
In a commercial for the promotion, a buff firefighter rescues a beautiful woman from a burning building. After they reach safety, they stand near the burning building, and the woman stares longingly into his eyes. Then, in the distance, she sees an astronaut in a spacesuit walking toward her, and she ditches the firefighter to run toward the astronaut: “Nothing beats an astronaut. Ever.”
David Kolbusz, a creative director at Bartle Bogle Hegarty, said that about a year ago his agency was considering ideas to promote the entire Axe brand, not just one fragrance.
“There was just a notion that Axe as a brand has always been about giving men confidence, and we also settled on this idea of women loving a hero and the universality of an astronaut as a hero,” Mr. Kolbusz said.
Noting that space tourism is beginning to capture attention, with companies including Virgin Galactic, the agency began exploring the possibility of giving away rides on flights to Axe users.
Axe also was developing an unnamed fragrance. To align it with a nascent space promotion, the company decided to name the fragrance Apollo, after the American program dedicated to landing astronauts on the moon in the 1960s and ’70s.
“It was just a lovely symbiosis between the two things,” said Mr. Kolbusz.
To enter the contest, which will be promoted in 60 countries in about 45 languages, contestants will complete what the brand is calling an astronaut profile detailing why they should be chosen. Based on popular votes, the brand will send 100 to 105 finalists from throughout the world to a space camp in Orlando, Fla., for three days of training and testing. The brand and expedition company will choose 21 winners from that group.
A 22nd ticket will be awarded directly to a United States resident in a sweepstake.
Extracted from an article by Andrew Adam Newman spotted on New York Times
Director of Brand Projects