Video Startup Revamps Space Contest After Virgin Galactic Crash

Virool pivots campaign

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After Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic SpaceShipTwo crashed in October, causing multiple delays to the launch of its commercial flights, video startup Virool is reworking a contest intended to send marketers to space.

Instead of offering a trip on the Virgin Galactic spaceship, the company is now giving away a day-long trip on the Zero Gravity Corporation Zero-G Experience. While the plane doesn't go into space, Zero-G pilots fly high enough to create a gravity-free ride.

"When we came back to the drawing board, we still wanted to stay on the same mission and still [do] something that had never been done before," said Alex Debelov, CEO of Virool.

Earlier this week, the San Francisco video vendor mailed 1,000 boxes to video execs at agencies and media desks. Each box contained a small sample of astronaut food and information about the contest. The company is also running ads on to promote the campaign.

Brands like GE have already used Zero-G to create some fun social video posts (see example below with Vine stars Marcus Johns and Jerome Jarre), so it will be interesting to see how the winners of Virool's contest use their onboard experience.

Virool plans to hold onto its Virgin Galactic ticket, originally for summer 2015, and may run a follow-up contest once the spacecraft solidifies a new takeoff date. 

The contest runs through May 2015, and the winning team will be announced at Cannes Lions next summer—where the startup will also have a presence.

"We want to find people who created unique and interesting, compelling stories behind a service or product. The reason why we're not just looking for traditional advertisers is because a lot of the metrics that we pride ourselves on and want our customers to have is beyond the number of people who viewed a video," Debelov said.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.