One small sign for a brand, one giant leap for brandkind

One small sign for a brand, one giant leap for brandkind

As the publication date for The Prisoner and the Penguin is approaching I was thinking back to the publication of my first book ‘Brandwatching’ and some of the stories and anecdotes I used in it. One in particular stood out in my memory so I looked it up again and re-wrote it in the style I would have written it if I was including it in The Prisoner.

I hope you like it. 


On May 25, 1961 President Kennedy delivered his “Special Message to the Congress on Urgent National Needs”. In it he expressed a concern that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in technology and prestige. He set the nation a challenge” of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth” before the decade was out.

Just over eight years later, on July 16, 1969, a Saturn V rocket launched Apollo 11 from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida. On board were three astronauts – Neil Armstrong, Michael Collins and Edwin ‘Buzz’ Aldrin.

Four days later the “Eagle” module landed successfully. Just after 02:30 (UTC) on July 21, Neil Armstrong opened the hatch and began his descent. On stepping onto the surface he spoke the now historic words, “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind”.


The Command Module “Columbia” returned to Earth on July 24 and, after touching down (well splashing down), the astronauts began 21 days of quarantine.

So it wasn’t until August 13 that there was a parade in their honour in New York. As they entered Times Square, the three astronauts were greeted by a flashing sign which read “Welcome home to Planet Earth, home of Coca Cola”.

Apollo 11 had successfully completed its mission. President Kennedy’s objective had been accomplished.

And Coca-Cola had successfully staked its claim to being the most famous brand on Planet Earth, and soon after started to receive applications for the first bottling franchises on the moon.


Footnote: Armstrong claims to have said “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind” when he first set foot on the lunar surface. The “a” is not clear in NASA recordings, but the audio and video links back to Earth were somewhat intermittent, partly because of storms near Parkes Observatory. More recent digital analysis of the tape by NASA revealed the “a” may have been spoken but obscured by static.


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