Mar 19, 2010

Virgin Student Space Trip Planned by Otaku Purple Cow

Adriaan Rijkens, Business Management & Technology student based in Amsterdam, plans to be the first sponsored student to go into space. He wants to raise $200 thousand from sponsors to pay for his sub-orbital flight with Virgin Galactic . You can read more about his plans on his website, which also includes a nice sponsorship proposal page.

Adriaan's approach is similar to our White Label Space plans to send a sponsored robotic mission to land on the Moon and rove across its surface.

But why is he an otaku purple cow?

A "purple cow" is an advertisement that is remarkable enough that people literally stop and look, or in some cases even make a long journey to learn more about the product! People who notice such an ad are curious, and will study it in detail for a short time. This window of time is an ideal chance for marketers to diffuse their message or idea.

But idea diffusion has changed in the digital age.

Seth Godin's TED talk about standing out in the post-"TV/Industrial Complex" world is a good explanation of the evolving battle for consumer attention. The image to the right (from his TED presentation) shows the changing number of consumers using a product during its life-cycle.

In the past marketers targeted consumers in the centre of the bell curve, because they were the largest group of potential customers. In the modern web-connected world, marketers often target the small minority of people at the left of the curve who are called the innovators or early adopters. If you can make that small group of people like your product, they will tell their friends in the rest of the curve, spreading the idea with almost no extra cost to the advertiser.

The Japanese have already invented a word for this - Otaku.

To a marketer, otaku is the desire of an obsessed consumer who is desperate to try out the latest new, fresh or trendy product and tell everybody about it. Otaku-centric marketing targets that key group using unique product features (like a purple cow) and/or advertising gimmicks.

So how can the principle of otaku-centric marketing and purple cows help Adriaan fly to space, or help White Label Space build and fly it moon mission?

The answer lies in linking the otaku communities. The key challenge for Adriaan and White Label Space is to identify and connect people who suffer (sic) from space otaku with otaku people who have more mainstream interests, particularly in areas where large amounts of advertising money are available. By making these connections, our white label brandless missions can be the right purple cow for marketers who want to diffuse their message to just the right audience.


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