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Don’t Get Left in the Dark: How Brands are Capitalizing on ‘The Great American Eclipse’

Insights / 08.16.2017

Ellie Garrett

It has been almost 100 years since the last total solar eclipse extended a shadow across American soil, and after August 21st, 2017, it may be 100 more before it happens again. Thousands of people are planning trips to be part of this once in a lifetime event. Hotels along the path of totality have been sold out for months and cities along the eclipse’s path are being are told to prepare for hurricane evacuation level traffic. Businesses and marketers alike are capitalizing on the phenomenon through merchandise, promotions, and the creation of special events for viewing. Here are just a few of the interesting and creative ways brands are taking advantage of this unique phenomenon, including some ideas for how you and your brand can get involved.  

What Brands Are Doing 

Locations along the path of darkness are using the event to drive tourism. Because hotels have been sold out for months, cities are getting creative to convince people to view the event from their location. Idaho Falls is hosting their first ever “Moonfest,” a 4-day long music festival specifically aimed at sun gazers wishing to witness the event first hand. The festival not only provides more hospitality options through camping, it also gives local artists and food vendors the opportunity to capitalize off the solar event as well.  

Alaska Airlines will be flying a special charter flight, “Chase the Eclipse,” from Portland, Oregon that will follow the eclipse along its path. “Since the Pacific Northwest is more prone to inclement weather and overcast skies…Alaska Airlines is making sure eclipse chasers on the West Coast have prime viewing conditions, above much of any potential weather or cloud cover.” Unfortunately, the flight is invitation-only for a select number of astronomy enthusiasts, with the exception of one lucky person who submits the best video through their social media video contest

For those who are not able to take a trip to experience the eclipse in person, they will still be able to experience it online through virtual reality, courtesy of Volvo and CNN. “Volvo Car USA and CNN have partnered to create a 360-degree, 4K virtual-reality broadcast of the eclipse.” Volvo will be using their new XC60 to race the sun across the country.  

Through cameras set up at special events in Idaho, Nebraska, Missouri, and South Carolina, viewers will be able to follow the eclipse in real time as it makes its way across the US.  Along with video footage of the event, viewers will be able to gain some inside knowledge from eclipse enthusiasts, including a retired NASA astronaut, who will be providing their unique points of view on the momentous event. 

How Your Brand Can Get Involved 

It is not just large, national brands that are trying to get involved with the solar eclipse. Many local retailers are selling solar eclipse glasses or hosting viewing parties, proving that brands don’t need a large budget or huge amount of planning time to create a solar related campaign. Here are some ideas to successfully integrate your brand into the eclipse conversation: 

Social Listening 

Social listening is an easy way for brands to be active in in the social conversation without much planning beforehand. Building out and monitoring a social listening dashboard leading up to and on the day of the eclipse will provide insight into what and how consumers are talking about the event. Brands can then use that information to create assets in real time and join the conversation with more interesting and relevant content for their consumers.  

Live Event Coverage  

Take your eclipse social reporting one step further by bringing the event to your consumers through live event coverage. 10 million people live along the path of the eclipse, but those who do not will likely scour the Internet for live updates and videos to feel connected to the event. If your brand has a unique perspective of the event, has a relevant product, or can provide groundbreaking insights that your audience truly cares about, then you should consider live event coverage around the eclipse.  Live event coverage is a great way to amplify experiences across digital channels and connect with an audience you normally would not connect with. If your brand does not have a message or product that aligns with covering an event like this, then it may be in your best interest to go dark (pun intended), so you are not trying to compete with what is sure to be one of the most talked about events on social media this year.  

Do you think it is wise for brands to get involved with events like this? Let us know what you think in the comments below. 

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