I'm Debbie, Fly Me (To Mars)

This one just tickles my funny bone. 

Public Citizen and Care2 are up in arms over the idea that NASA’s good name and reputation might be sullied by the possible selling of naming rights to its rockets and space ships. 

And oh, heaven forbid, the groups are also concerned that astronauts might appear in commercials or on cereal boxes “like celebrity athletes.” 

For decades, there’s been a debate about just how much, if anything, the government should invest in space exploration. Wouldn’t those dollars, opponents argue, be better spent on more earthly matters, like helping the poor and feeding the hungry? 

No doubt the poor and the hungry need and deserve assistance. 

Personally, I’m glad NASA is still in business. Everyone realizes, on some level, that space exploration is essential to learning about the universe. And let’s face it, at some point, at the rate we’re going, humans may need to expand their living space beyond “The Pale Blue Dot” as Carl Sagan eloquently called Earth in his best-selling book. 



And if corporations help sponsor the effort to expand our knowledge about potentially colonizing other worlds? Well, why the heck not? put out a release today that began: “A spacecraft, like the one used in today’s Expedition 58 [which made it safely to the International Space Station], could soon be covered in beer and cigarette ads if the Trump administration persuades the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to sell naming rights on rockets and space ships.” 

First of all, who said anything about beer and cigarette ads?

There are rules in place that regulate sponsorships, and I don’t think we’re going to see the Marlboro cowboy adorning the sides of Mars-bound rovers anytime soon. 

And despite the headline of this column, designed to get your attention, sexist “Fly Me” type campaigns certainly won’t fly in this day and age. 

But Nike, Cheerios, American Express, GM or almost any other brand? Go for it, I say. 

Kristen Strader, campaign coordinator for Public Citizen, issued a statement: “NASA should pioneer a future that educates and inspires, not one in which public resources promote values of consumption and brand loyalty.”  I think the horse is out of the barn on that one, Kristen. 

NASA is a place full of big brains. I’m sure there are a few smarties there that can come up with a marketing plan that educates and inspires while raising funds from the private sector at the same time. 

And I can think of an ad agency or two that would be more than happy to assist in the effort.

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