NASA today announced their "Asteroid Grand Challenge" (read the release here) which essentially encourages anyone (and they mean ANYone) to suggest new methods for discovering asteroids that are a potential threat to Earth and strategies for preventing armageddon.
Last time I checked, NASA was supposed to be full of smart people figuring out stuff like this!
They will "harness public engagement, open innovation and citizen science to help solve this global problem". Here's another way to interpret what they're saying: "We can't quite figure it out on our own, so maybe there are smart people out there that can do our work for us".
It's like the Minister of Finance announcing that he wants us to balance the government's books for him.
It's like a vascular surgeon announcing that she wants us to figure out how to prevent heart attacks.
It's like LeBron James announcing that someone can step in for him tonight.
My guess is that, in addition to attempting to reduce the threat of an asteroid strike on our planet, they wanted to engage with the public and make NASA more accessible. But to me, admitting that you can't quite solve a problem that you are there to solve does much more harm than good. If they wanted to engage the public, maybe do something like a name-the-next-asteroid challenge, not a save-our-planet-because-we-can't challenge!
THE LESSON FOR MARKETERS:
Let's remember what a 'brand' is: A promise to the market, and the actions that (you hope) keep that promise. NASA broke their brand promise to us. They are supposed to be really smart people, reaching out to the far corners of the universe. By asking for help from Joe Citizen, they've broken that promise. As you reach out to your market, what are you saying? Are you keeping or breaking your promise to them?
Am I too hard on them? Should we be applauding their efforts to engage with the community and embrace creativity?
This blog is written by Glenn Cressman, Share Of Marketing's founder and Chief Share Builder (bio). It covers all things marketing. Feel free to comment!