Out-of-this-World Product Placement

by Gordon Mohr

Related link: http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=11681

NASA's next two Mars rovers, launching later this month to
reach Mars in January 2004, have adopted mission patches
featuring Warner Brothers characters Duck Dodgers (Daffy Duck) and Marvin the Martian

So was this a premium product placement, earning the NASA mission budget a hefty fee from Warner Brothers?

Nope. I've been told NASA actually had to pay for this chance to give Warner Brothers a bonanza of free, endearing publicity.

Perhaps someday they'll offer official sponsorships to the highest bidders, to help finance missions. It works for the Olympics!

UPDATE 6:15p PT 2003-06-06: Maybe NASA (or its employees) will wind up making some money from the deal after all... by unloading official patches on EBay.

Who'd you like to see sponsor a mission to Mars?


2003-06-06 14:23:05
That's excellent
That is very cool that they're NOT getting paid for it and doing it by choice. It seems to me that it makes the whole thing not so cold and unconnected from the people involved. Like the difference between calling your servers "serv01" and "serv02" vs "marvin" and "elmer". They take on a personality . Specifically it would seem to make people more connected with a project that they're working on, like this one. It's not "just another space probe". Kinda like giving something a pet name.

The point in all that would be making people feel more connected to their work can give a productivity increase. More pride in craftsmanship.


Not to mention, old school Warner Bros. chars are usually just pretty cool. :D

2003-06-06 14:41:34
That's excellent
Um, did you *notice* the part where the author stated that *NASA* paid WB for the privilege of using the characters?

Hello, correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't that basically amount to my tax dollars being spent on something frivolous?

I have no objection to having a cool mission patch, and having one that fosters a connection between the participants and their work, as you say, is all to the good. But why on earth should NASA have PAID Warner? Warner has NOTHING to do with space exploration, and that means the money is just going out the door! If NASA had paid an in-house or free-lance graphic designer for an original logo, chances are REALLY GOOD that the costs would have been less than WB's licensing fees, and the result would have been an original work -- thus ADDING to our culture.

Gaaah. My kidneys ache at the mere thought of this particular boondoggle.

2003-06-06 18:03:50
Money for missions would be more excellent
Your servers are named "marvin" and "elmer"? How much are you paying WB licensing? :)

I'm fine with the patch designs -- they're fun. I've had a Marvin the Martian mousepad for years. It's just that if they cost NASA even a single dollar, that's too much -- because the payment is in the wrong direction, as a matter of principle. To be featured on a mission patch is an honor, and could be a publicity windfall. The company, not the public agency, should be paying up.