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The launch lowdown: from interstellar cars to political activism

By James Roles , Columnist

March 15, 2018 | 7 min read

Saint Valentine has left the building. Relax. Breathe. Singletons can stop pretending to hate him, and couples can stop pretending his commercially twisted legacy matters. What does matter, though, is that there’s been a slew of launches across the board in the past month proving that, despite the constant influx of nostalgic relaunches we’re subjected to on a daily basis, new is indeed the new new… in most instances.

Tesla Space X

Shot through the heart and you’re to blame, Elon Musk put a car in space

Tesla left us all agog late last year. Launching its new Semi truck was event enough, but the States’ most bullish car-maker wasn’t anywhere near done with us. Hidden inside the Semi was Tesla’s new Roadster model, debuting to a sea of gawking faces with some Beastie Boys blaring in the background. An awesome act of subterfuge and extravagance on a level that’d make Russell Brand blush, the Roadster’s launch was a milestone moment in its own right, while also distracting from Model 3’s delay. A stroke of launch genius.

But Elon Musk still wasn’t finished. His other *pretty successful* enterprise, SpaceX, launched its Falcon Heavy rocket towards Mars on 6 February. The Roadster was attached. Obviously. This launch was undoubtedly about the Falcon Heavy – after all, it could change the game in terms of sending heavy loads into space – but the inclusion of the Roadster was another muscle memory tactic from Master Musk. When it’s eventually released in 2020, it’s not exactly going to be swept under the rug, is it? The car that, with zero marketing budget of its own, gatecrashed another Tesla launch and went into orbit. I’ll take two. Nasa probably won’t, though.

Aldi keeps spreading the love

Following on from the budget retailer’s Valentine’s drive – 100 roses for £25? Go on then – Aldi’s keeping us warm and fuzzy this Mother’s Day, despite the damn snow. In line with its copyright-dodging ‘inspired by’ output, Aldi’s just launched a Jo Malone-esque beauty collection that’s 92 percent cheaper than the original. So Mums can feel special on March 11th, because their doting offspring definitely didn’t wait until the last minute to think of a present… right?

In all seriousness, though, Aldi’s fast becoming the leader of calendar-based launches. Following on from its Malone-aping candles last Mother’s Day, the bargain brigade took things a step further while making the aforesaid candles a permanent addition to its homeware section. Aldi’s taken a corner of the market and completely owned it, each successive launch, award and opinion poll further cementing its reputation as not just a cheap alternative, but a credible first choice for shoppers.

Buckingham Palace serves passion, fashion and no pastel

While the Queen herself wasn’t present strutting her stuff, Buckingham Palace made for one hell of a catwalk during London Fashion Week. Among other names across the Commonwealth, the Palace hosted work by eco-fashion activist Livia Firth, who used the launch of her new looks to highlight the poor conditions millions of underpaid, underappreciated women suffer through to keep the fashion industry upright.

Instances like this are a middle finger to those decrying fashion as vapid, devoid of thought – the same oiks who tell Bruce Springsteen to shut up and stick to music. People have a platform and they’re using it. It’s interesting to note that this is happening within Buckingham Palace’s four-or-more walls; politically motivated, purpose-driven launches of this nature will surely be firing off more often in the near future, given the upcoming royal wedding.

New line of phones has us going bananas for Nokia

While those old enough will have fond memories of Nokia’s endearing ‘brick’ phones, the brand’s advancements in recent years have been eclipsed by the likes of Apple and Samsung. In a fresh push to catch up with aforesaid brands, Nokia used Mobile World Congress as a chance to launch five new phones alongside a revamped version of its iconic 8110 ‘banana’ model from days gone by.

Granted, it’s not operating on the same scale as Apple’s ‘look, here’s everything, bleurgh!’ annual keynote approach, but Nokia’s new launch says something about the brand. It’s ambitious. It covers all fronts; the Nokia 8 Sirocco clocks in at the same price as Samsung’s Galaxy; the Nokia 6’s facial recognition allows you to unlock the screen with just a glance; and the jazzed-up 8110 provides that inevitable nostalgia trip. Last year, Pekka Rantala, chief marketing officer at HMD Global – the company responsible for Nokia’s rebirth – claimed that it’ll take less than 10 years for it to take on Apple and Samsung. Let’s see.

Love for Grenfell

No words can capture the inequity that’s been dealt to the victims of Grenfell Tower. Stormzy put it the best he could at the Brit Awards, countless petitions and news stories have tried, and Justice 4 Grenfell’s haunting OOH campaign certainly got its point across.

Inspired by the brilliant Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri, three electronic billboards were driven around London, including a stop outside parliament. Each billboard bore the respective legend: "71 DEAD", "AND STILL NO ARRESTS", and "HOW COME?" The fire on June 14th last year claimed at least 71 lives, and we’ve seen no justice. A proposed Easter interim report is no longer being published. If those behind the scenes are hoping this gets brushed under the rug, then they’re wrong. There needs to be accountability, and this campaign’s launch, tied into Three Billboards’ recent launch success, refuses to let the issue drop. This is activism through launch marketing. This is real.

James Roles is sales and marketing director at launch marketing specialist Five by Five


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