How Known told the world about the first all-civilian space mission

The campaign for SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission raised donations for St. Jude Children’s Hospital.

When marketing agency Known began working with fintech company Shift4 Payments, the remit to handle was strategy, creative and media for the payment processing brand and its new e-commerce platform, Shift4 Shop, where business owners can create their own websites.

What seemed like a typical engagement led to an unexpected ask: spread the word about Inspiration4, Space X’s first all-civilian mission into space. Shift4Shop was sponsoring the mission, on which CEO Jared Isaacman would be a passenger.

“I was intrigued, just like anybody would be,” said Known president and CXO Ross Martin. “This became a really inspiring mission.” 

Known, which is also the agency of record for Inspiration 4, was asked to develop a brand identity for the mission and manage communications around it, while also launching a campaign to give away three seats on the mission to everyday people. 

People could apply for a chance to join by starting their own shop on Shift4Shop and explaining why they deserved to go to space. People could donate to St. Jude Children’s Hospital, where Isaacman wanted to drive donations as part of the mission. 

The campaign

To get the word out, Known developed a Super Bowl spot for the program, directed by Bryce Dallas Howard and voiced by actress Octavia Spencer, set to a rendition of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, sung by artist Celeste. 

Known also designed Inspiration4’s official mission patch and donated the proceeds to St. June. Royalties from Twinkle Twinkle Little Star were also donated to the hospital. 

Data scientists at the agency used machine learning and TV viewing data to predict which viewers were likely to watch the Super Bowl ad, and tweaked the copy and media strategy to optimize performance.

Mission accomplished

The campaign raised $13 million for St. Jude on Super Bowl Sunday alone, adding to Isaacman’s own $100 million pledge.

Since then, the campaign has raised over $115 million for St. Jude and is on track to reach its $200 million goal by the mission launch this fall. 

Shift4Shop has also grown 10X to host over 7,000 stores, with an average of 250 stores created daily. 

And, of course, the lucky winners on board for the Inspiration4 mission were chosen: Hayley Arceneaux, a physician’s assistant at St. Jude and survivor of childhood bone cancer; Chris Sembroski, an engineer at Lockheed Martin and Iraq war veteran; and Sian Proctor, a geoscience professor at South Mountain University.

Known is producing a documentary with TIME Studios about the mission with executive producer Connor Schell. 

“When [we] pull back and realize the historic nature of this human achievement, it's just [amazing],’” Martin said.  

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