Photo: Danny GhitisNEW YORK—In 2019, the first all-female spacewalk had to be postponed because there were not enough spacesuits available for astronauts.
“It was a revelation for us,” said Alice Milligan, CMO of Morgan Stanley. “As Morgan Stanley Equities Research predicts the global space industry will grow to more than $1 trillion by 2040, we believe we have an opportunity to help break down barriers and provide everyone with an opportunity. equitable participation in the growth of the space economy. ”
To that end, the financial services company decided to partner with CNN’s brand studio Courageous to raise awareness about inclusive spacesuit design by unveiling a concept model of a spacesuit in Times Square in October.
The immersive activation, called “Creating Space,” allowed visitors to explore the history of spacesuit design with screens featuring replicas of historic suits, as well as pose for photos as astronauts via augmented reality (AR) technology. As an add-on encouraging engagement, photos shared on social media were featured on signage outside Morgan Stanley’s headquarters in Times Square.
Visitors could also walk through a “galaxy room” with mirrored walls, floors and ceiling that projected images from the James Webb Space Telescope. And on the way out, the new Morgan Stanley Access I spacesuit was on display; it was conceptualized with a team of space experts, including Vinita Marwaha Madill, founder of Rocket Women, which spotlights women in STEM industries, as well as historians and engineers.
On the International Space Station (ISS), suits known as HUT units are currently only available in medium, large and extra-large sizes, which is why the first all-female spacewalk was canceled (there were not enough medium-sized units ready). To increase inclusiveness, Morgan Stanley’s speculative suit concept includes air bladders in the chest cavity that can be inflated or deflated to accommodate different torso shapes and sizes, as well as improved articulation components for better mobility.
The “Creating Space” activation was “part of a larger partnership with CNN to bring attention to the need for more inclusive spacesuit design and help break down barriers for women in space,” said Milligan. The one-day activation welcomed approximately 3,000 visitors; people can still find out more on CNN.com.
The spacesuit project is also the latest effort as part of Morgan Stanley’s larger marketing strategy. “As a company, we’re very committed to championing diversity and inclusion, and you’ll see that increasingly reflected in how we go to market as a brand,” Milligan said.
The company collaborated with fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff to reimagine the traditional banker’s bag – which was typically worn by men on Wall Street – for a wider audience. The bag was launched in September, during the last New York Fashion Week. And brand ambassador Leylah Fernandez, a 20 year old Canadian tennis pro and a citizen of Ecuadorian and Filipino descent, appeared in a new commercial for Morgan Stanley that debuted during the US Open. “The response we’ve had on both initiatives has been tremendous with social media and earned metrics far exceeding benchmarks,” Milligan said.
Citing the recent Edelman Trust Barometer (a score that measures the average percentage of trust in institutions such as NGOs, businesses, government and the media), Milligan pointed out that 58% of respondents said they would buy or advocate for brands based on their beliefs and values. She added that “more and more brands are expected to succeed by doing good; that they stand up and champion initiatives that put purpose first and create more equitable, representative and inclusive cultures.
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