As our understanding of the power native advertising grows, we are proving just what can be achieved when we really engage with our audience.

The moon landing at 02.56 am July 1969 (GMT) is probably the greatest event ever in the history of audience engagement, when the astronauts finally touched down, watched by 125 million people on TV.

With just 76 kilobytes of computer data (about the same as in the remote locking device for your car today), losing all contact with Earth at the last minute and landing manually with just 7 seconds of fuel left. That landing was a leap of faith that inspired a generation and restored a nation’s, if not the world’s, confidence.

Nothing inspires us more than heroes and their acts of heroism and we love to identify with them. Perhaps young guys need those heroes even more than most, needing to identify with role models and engage with their achievements, to find their own dreams. Whether astronaut, sports celebrity, rock god or business entrepreneur; our engagement with our heroes is one of the strongest connections we will ever feel.

Which is why ‘Thrillist’, the local lifestyle guide for young urban guys, hit the target big time in taking their client GE (General Electric) the native route to promote their ‘The Missions’ sneakers. After all GE had a lot to celebrate on the 45th anniversary of the epic event and this was an opportunity that couldn’t be wasted. GE made the rubber soles of the actual moon boots (they did many other parts for the mission, in fact they had over 6,000 people working on the project), but it was the astronauts’ boots that actually made contact with the moon and left those iconic and timeless footprints.

So why use native to get through to a bunch of young urban guys, the Thrillist audience, who weren’t even alive in 1969? Because the moon landing, close approaching half a century away, still resonates with young people, especially young males. Urban men look for icons and, in their time, Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins were urban guys in their own way; driven by their heroes, the test pilots and sound-barrier breakers that went before them. No banner ads and witty headlines can reach across generations like that.

But let’s say a word too for GE, themselves no strangers to going where ‘no man has gone before’, to paraphrase Star Trek. GE have always been at the forefront of adopting new technologies, whether for production or for marketing; quickly exploring the new opportunities created by digital and it’s off-spring, the internet and social media.

GE’s wish to celebrate that event with a commemorative shoe could have been a naff campaign that belittled the event. Instead it was a celebratory and respectful use of the native approach that served to remind everyone what those three guys and the thousands backing them up in 1969 actually did. GE made a leap of faith to go native, not necessarily a giant leap for mankind, but certainly a giant leap for native advertising.

Those ‘The Missions’ shoes are now selling on e-bay for over two grand a pair; if that doesn’t convince you that native is the way forward to really engage with your market then you must be living on some other planet!

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Author Adam Knoyle

More posts by Adam Knoyle

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