Elsevier launches space mission to save the future of research

With an integrated thought-leadership and advertising campaign, a team of orange astronauts calls on academia to bring knowledge back to Earth.






Brand Campaign
An orange astronaut next to a Tokyo taxi

The change to provoke

Elsevier wanted to market its 'impact' solutions, tools to help academic leaders measure the real-world value of their research, but faced a significant challenge: this market didn't exist. Traditionally, 'impact' is measured by bibliometrics (how many times other academics have mentioned one's research in their work). This not only presents a barrier to Elsevier's offering but also reveals a much bigger issue: with governments increasingly pushing for quantifiable public benefits, the future of academia is at stake. We didn't just have to create a market for Elsevier; we had to change how impact is measured to guarantee academia’s survival.

The story that provoked it

After surveying 400+ academic leaders worldwide, we discovered a passionate yearning, an impetus, to demonstrate the real world impact of research. But this impetus is frustrated by the daunting complexity and politics of creating a meaningful system of measurement. To release it, we needed to give it a voice, and challenge the community to come together and bring about change. Launching a campaign wasn’t enough. We launched a space mission. The objective? Bring knowledge back to Earth.

Launching a campaign wasn’t enough. We launched a space mission

The impact

The campaign exceeded industry and Elsevier engagement benchmarks. In the first 16 weeks, 687 (13.32%) of 5,000 global target accounts actively engaged, surpassing the stretch target of 75%. The Back to Earth story was also platformed at The World Academic Summit in Sydney and The Innovation and Impact Summit in Shenzhen, consolidating their role in re-shaping the industry and driving meaningful change in academia.