David Meerman Scott is the co-author of Marketing the Moon, which was produced by Scott-Martin Kosofsky. And, incidentally, this year is the 50th anniversary of the first (that we know of) manned landing on the moon. Mr. Scott has produced an invaluable resource.
“It’s taken me fifteen years of collecting to amass what I believe to be the most complete collection of Apollo 11 contractor press kits in the world,” he recently informed me. These press kits prepared by the public relations staff at the major contractors for the Apollo 11 mission provided additional information not found in NASA news releases. Reporters and editors from media outlets including television and newspapers had access to such documents from dozens of manufacturers while working on stories about the first lunar landing. The kits are smartly prepared, with stunning artwork and fascinating period photographs.
Now, in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission in July 2019, Mr. Scott spent many hours digitizing the Marketing the Moon collection and putting them into a website, which he will make available to scholars, marketers, Apollo buffs, and fans of graphic design. “It’s my gift to the world.” The site launched last Thursday and is available here.
How did you become a collector of Apollo press kits?
I’m a marketing and public relations strategist. I worked for about a decade in the corporate world and since 2002 I’ve been writing and speaking about marketing in the era of social media. I’m also a massive Apollo enthusiast. I was 8 years old when Apollo 11 launched and it became an obsession for me then and now. So about 15 years ago I started collecting press kits from the Apollo 11 mission that were issued by the contractors because they were an intersection of two of the things that are important to my life.
I became really interested in the graphic design of the materials. Each one is unique. I also love to look at the vintage photos.
Having this collection sparked the idea of writing Marketing the Moon: The Selling of the Apollo Lunar Program. I co-wrote it with Richard Jurek and Gene Cernan, the last man to walk on the moon, wrote the foreword. Scott Kosofsky produced the book for MIT Press.
How long did it take you to amass this collection?
It’s been about 15 years now.
I was a Mercury fan, were more corporations involved with Apollo?
Apollo was a much bigger project because there was so much that was new. Both Mercury and Gemini re-purposed ICBMs as launch vehicles while the Apollo Saturn V was all new. And because of that ultimate goal of reaching the moon, the corporations involved were eager to be a part of it and then wanted to talk it up to the public.
Do you see a common thread running between all the PR packets?
I’m fascinated how the contractors lovingly created these materials to tie their company to the epic Apollo 11 mission. I’m imaging the entire company was proud to be working on Apollo.
It’s also interesting to note that many of the contractors were also supplying the U.S. military during the Viet Nam war, so the good news of Apollo might have offset the negativity associated with the war business in the late 1960s.
Which are your favorites and why?
I particularly love the computer-like cardboard calculators, sort of like a slide rule, created by several contractors. For example, North American Rockwell produced an Apollo Mileage and Speed Converter that allowed members of the media following the mission to convert data like feet per second (as heard on the NASA audio feeds) to statute miles per hour that is more easily understood by their readers.
What do you hope this info “dump” will add to our appreciation of the Apollo mission?
Once I realized I likely have the most complete set of press kits from the Apollo 11 mission anywhere in the world, more than 40 different press kits now, I decided to share them with collectors, academics, graphic design and vintage photograph enthusiasts as well as PR professionals.
I wanted anybody who is interested to have access to these historical documents.
Do you believe that Apollo (or Gemini or Mercury) are pretty much forgotten today?
There is enormous interest in Apollo right now because the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 first lunar landing is in July 2019. The Apollo 11 movie was released last week and it is amazing. There will be a lot of attention on Apollo this year.
t Steven HellerSteven Heller is the co-chair of the SVA MFA Design / Designer as Entrepreneur program, and writes frequently for EYE and Design Observer. He is also the author of over 190 books on design and visual culture. He received the 1999 AIGA Medal, is in the Art Directors Hall of Fame and is the 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian National Design Award.View all posts by Steven Heller →