How to Market the Great American Eclipse

How to Market the Great American Eclipse

Traditional Advertising goes live! On Aug. 21, 2017, the U.S. will experience the first solar eclipse to traverse the contiguous U.S. — coast to coast — in almost a century and the last solar eclipse in the U.S. until April 2024 . The next eclipse to make the cross-continental journey will be in August 2045.

Roughly 12.2 million Americans reside within the path of totality and, according to NASA, about 200 million people live within one day’s drive. “This will be like Woodstock 200 times over — but across the whole country,” said Alex Young, solar scientist at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. CNN, Volvo, The Weather Channel and the Adler Planetarium have devoted significant resources to cover the eclipse and promote their brands.

Marketing the Eclipse

CNN and Volvo have joined forces to present the “Eclipse of the Century.” Live Volvo ads1 will be streamed on CNN’s digital and social platforms during their coverage of the solar eclipse, as part of their efforts to make live ad formats available to marketers. Tom Hardin of G2 Crowd anticipated that VR and AR would be the next big video advertising trend of 2017. “For digital advertisers, understanding trends in the video ad world could pay huge dividends in 2017,” wrote Hardin.

To realize the live ads, CNN’s branding studio Courageous will station cameras in four locations across the country to film influencers in the fields of science, space and history: Egyptologist Kara Cooney, retired astronaut Cady Coleman, American explorer Richard Wiese and Andy Weir, author of “The Martian.” Each influencer will arrive at a viewing location in a 2018 Volvo XC60 equipped with 4K VR and a 360-degree camera to help capture the live ad and each influencer’s perspective on the eclipse in real time.

This will be the first of a larger live ads effort from Courageous Studio and CNN’s parent company Turner Broadcasting. “Since launching Courageous, we’ve been intensely focused on experimenting with new creative formats … to help tell more powerful brand stories,” Michal Shapira, Turner’s SVP of news content partnerships, told Adweek. “Live ads are simply the next iteration of this effort, born from the fact that we live in a ‘live’ culture that values real-time experiences.”

Video Advertising Trending

Your business doesn’t need to have an in-house branding studio like Courageous to create captivating video experiences. From out-stream ads to interactive video, video advertising software helps companies’ marketing teams, vendors or third-party ad agencies create, manage and place video ads on digital and social platforms.

According to the G2 Crowd Spring 2017 Video Advertising GridSM report, buyers of the top nine video advertising products reviewed on G2 Crowd were comprised of small businesses at 17 percent, mid-market at 48 percent and enterprise at 35 percent. Companies of any size can invest in a marketing strategy and branding agency to make the most of video advertising software.

Cruise Your Way Around the Eclipse

In addition to the live ad, the branding partnership between CNN and Volvo is displayed on the countdown to the eclipse. Or check out CNN’s eclipse website to encounter a moon-colored Volvo obscuring the eclipse of the sun: “Racing the Sun: An Interactive Eclipse Experience in 4K.” Click on the header, and you will be redirected to Volvo’s website.


The right marketing strategy has brought together The Weather Channel (TWC) and Royal Caribbean, just in time to broadcast the eclipse from the Total Eclipse Cruise in the Atlantic. In addition to hosting live events across the country, TWC will also use augmented reality technology to transport viewers into space and teach them the science behind the eclipse. To promote the event, a graphic designer transformed the image of an eclipse into an appealing logo.

A stacked “The Total Solar Eclipse” in Century Gothic-style typeface logo | The Weather Channel

If you’re in Chicago, you’ve probably seen huge eclipse viewing glasses around town. The Adler Planetarium is hosting an Eclipse Bash on August 21, featuring all things solar. No doubt, the experiential advertising will be a sight to be seen (in addition to the eclipse, that is). The Adler recently hired marketing guru Ryutaro “Ryu” Mizuno to oversee the brand internally, locally, nationally and globally.

“As the country’s first planetarium, the Adler has long positioned itself as a cultural institution committed to bringing communities together through engagement, curiosity and exploration,” said Mizuno. “I am honored to have the opportunity to further establish the Adler brand as the premier organization for connecting people and the Universe to move science forward.”

Adler Planetarium Advertisement | Courtney Moran

Eclipses Are Not Rare. So Why Are You So Excited?

The solar eclipse should get a lot of attention and, like the Super Bowl, is an event best watched live. To enjoy the full eclipse, 300 million Americans that reside outside of the path of totality will need to stream it live. It’s no wonder that brands are taking the rare occasion — day becoming night, coast-to-coast — to engage customers.

Bill Nye, CEO of the Planetary Society, wants everyone to get out and experience this awe-inspiring phenomenon:

“We’re celebrating the celestial event because if you think about the profound nature of the discovery that the Earth goes around the sun, that all the planets go around the sun, it changed human history, it enabled international commerce, it enables you to have deliveries by Amazon and shop for clothing at the Gap and have mobile phones designed in California manufactured overseas,” said Nye. “It gives you tremendous insight into your place in the cosmos. So everybody who has an opportunity to see or experience an eclipse, I believe, should take it. Because this is profound.”

1 If you’re still confused about what a live ad is, remember when Adam Driver ruined the live Snickers ad during the Super Bowl?

Want to get the biggest AR and VR stories from around the web sent to your email once a week?