Friday, July 08, 2011

Set the Wayback Machine (Again): “Celebrating 50 Space Travel Yrs.”

In new advertising for the Houston Museum of Natural Science, by Creative Director Kim Bloedorn, you can see the difference between satire (bad) and homage (really, really good):

When I was asked to create ads to run in the anniversary section of the Houston Chronicle Space Shuttle tribute, my immediate inspiration was retro-styled art. What better way to celebrate 50 years in space.

Our hometown paper’s made room for major efforts commemorating NASA, the last shuttle launch and the milestones of space flight. The museum’s strong connections with NASA via its education and planetarium programs spurred its participation in the special Chronicle section published today.

There are a lot of us whose awareness of “the final frontier” predated Sputnik. We grew up with Double Star (Robert Heinlein, 1956), “Forbidden Planet” (MGM, same year) and the omnipresent rocket engineer of the 20th Century (Wernher von Braun, 1912-1977). For hundreds of thousands of us, manned space exploration was a no-brainer; has been, in fact, a constant presence in our lives.

For some of us, it has fueled careers that have lasted through today – in media broadly, in PR and advertising specifically. From campaigns for companies like MBDA to ongoing enthusiasm for the imagery of old Soviet rocket programs in modern marketing illustration, there’s an undying meme that feels distinctly American but has spent half a century transcending borders.

Today here’s Bloedorn in full (funky) color, spacing me out with her finned rocket ships and scuffed planetary rings and the bucktoothed kid in the zip-up spaceship suit.

For her, it’s a…jubilee of memory: I hoped it would spark an emotional connection with those of us that remember the days when the space program began and celebrate the fun that can still be had from learning and exploring space right here at HMNS.

Culture infects advertising. Advertising infects culture. In case you don’t believe that the new HMNS ads aren’t channeling meme-makers like Kelly Freas, take a quick visual peek at one month in one year of fantasy and science fiction: January 1954. Better yet, drive by the Planet Ford dealership in Humble. Or the Flying Saucer shop on Crosstimbers: “Our Pies Are Out of This World!”

So are Bloedorn’s adverts.*
*I bet Bloedorn would like me to note, 2011 © HMNS. All rights reserved.


Susan Reeves said...

Very cool ads. Where do they run them Richard, any idea? They totally reach out to me!

Arthur Radebaugh was one of my influences for several design projects in the past.

I think the most fun we had with "rocket" influence was the Western Lithograph campaign we did to introduce their new "ZIRKON" press. A whole "greetings from Zirkon"... an invitation to another world.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Susan - I remember the "greetings from Zirkon" campaign. Was that with Chris Lockwood? Meantime, the special insert appeared in the Houston Chronicle today...a good job of work on the part of the newspaper.

Kim Bloedorn said...

Thank you so much. This is truly an honor. I appreciate the irony of the retro ads in a blog post.

Most grateful...

Greg Clock said...

RLB: Good stuff. (I liked "From the Earth to the Moon" when I saw it in the late 1950s. Wonder how it would hold up to a more critical eye today. Bet Debra Paget still looks good in it.)