NASA recently made the mistake of running an online contest to rename room “Node 3″ of the international space station. The government organization presented the public with four pre-approved names while allowing them to write-in an alternate choice. Bad call. At least from NASA’s perspective. Great call by Stephen Colbert. He rallied his troops and managed 230,539 votes for, what else, “Colbert”. This is more than 40,000 votes over the second place NASA approved “Serenity”.
Of course, NASA reserves the right to choose an appropriate name. Which we all know will not be Colbert. But which will give Colbert weeks and weeks of material. And dollars and dollars of free press.
So where were the brands? Where was Burger King or GIECO or Pepsi? Where was a quickly executed online viral campaign to try and counter Colbert. The Burger King room? The GIECO room? I always feel like somebody’s watching me…from space!
Not only would a successfully executed naming campaign have generated mountains of press during the voting process, but you would have had the opportunity to continue to push your brand up until NASA announces its final decision in April. And then, when NASA does pick a name like Serenity, because you know they will never pick a brand or a TV personality, your campaign could continue to march forward on the issue of how a government elected by the people, for the people once again did not listen to the people.
The largest billboard in the world was up for grabs and the only brand who made a play was Stephen Colbert.