Last summer, a number of licensors and their licensees created space-inspired products, promotions, and entertainment productions to capitalize on the high profile of the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 and the first steps on the moon in July. Some were tied to the Apollo space program and some to other space-related properties and/or themes.
While the anniversary is long past, the interest in space has continued throughout the year:
• In November, Adidas partnered with the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory for an ISS National Lab x Adidas Ultraboost 20 collaboration. The new high-performance shoe design launches December 6 after a number of limited-edition drops in different colorways. The long-term collaboration also includes sending Adidas’ Boost technology into space for R&D purposes and the launch of a training program for runners called Train Like An Astronaut.
• Peanuts’ Snoopy, which was closely associated with the Apollo space program in the 1960s, was at the center of a number of space-themed initiatives during this past summer, ranging from a STEM curriculum to a McDonald’s Happy Meal. The character continued its space-themed adventures thereafter. New initiatives include a graphic novel from Boom! Studios, A Beagle of Mars, and an animated series on the Apple+ TV service, Snoopy in Space. Both launched in November. Wildbrain and Peanuts Worldwide manage the property.
• In October, Nickelodeon announced a lifestyle collaboration with Pharrell Williams’ Billionaire Boys Club Ice Cream label. It was centered around the SpongeBob SquarePants episode “Goons on the Moon,” a holiday special from 2018. Stills from the season 11 show appear on each item in the collection, which includes t-shirts, skate decks, pins, and storage crates.
• Purdue University, represented by CLC, continued to sell its limited-edition Cradle of Astronauts merchandise, which launched in time for the Apollo 11 anniversary, through Homecoming in October, which also was the conclusion of the school’s year-long 150th anniversary celebration. The merchandise marked the fact that Purdue, known as the Cradle of Astronauts, has had 25 alumni members who have gone on to be astronauts, including Neil Armstrong, the first to step on the moon. The products included a graphic incorporating the nickname, along with the phrase Giant Leaps, which refers both to the lunar landing and the theme of the anniversary. Merchandise from licensees including Legacy/L2 and Blue84 was sold through the Purdue Team Store, online and at two on-campus locations.
• In the U.K., the Science Museum and its licensee The Monster Factory created the institution’s first children’s stationery range, including sticky notes, notepads, pens, keychains, toy rockets, and space shuttle kits. The collection launched exclusively in John Lewis and Partners stores in August. The stationery followed the July launch of other space-themed products from the museum and the same licensee, including a playhouse. The museum has an Exploring Space gallery that features the Soyuz capsule in which British astronaut Tim Peake of the European Space Agency returned to Earth from the International Space Station in 2016.
Some of the examples on this list are integrally connected with the Apollo or other space missions, while others are simply capitalizing on the current interest in all things space. A few represent continuations or expansions of programs that launched in time for the Apollo 11 anniversary; others were introduced as brand-new initiatives in the second half of this year.
Space is a perennial content and design theme for licensed products, with the normal peaks and valleys over time. It seems as if the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 in July kicked off a period of popularity for all space-themed products and properties that is likely to continue at least into 2020.