Astronaut Lovell PSA launches Library program

Astronaut James Lovell, Jr. wants everyone to soar with books

The Chicago Public Library Foundation knew RPM Advertising had the right stuff when it asked the agency to create a PSA to promote its annual fundraising program that keeps kids engaged during the summer months.

The theme of Rahm’s Readers 2015 Summer Learning Challenge, called “Explore and Soar,” is based on space and aeronautics. So it was a natural for RPM to land Apollo 13 astronaut Capt. James Lovell, Jr., a Chicago resident, by the way, as the star.

The Summer Learning Challenge launched this week and runs throughout Sept. 1, along with the PSA playing on all TV stations and on Comcast and a version for radio.

In the spot, Lovell, who’s logged a million miles of space exploration, is amid library stacks of books, as he’s being challenged by an off-camera Bill Kurtis to read a million hours of books in one summer. 

“Me, read a million books this summer,” the astronaut says as kids keep piling books in his arms. “You want me to read all these?”

“Chicago kids are going into space this summer with over one million hours of reading, discovery and creativity,” says Kurtis, urging donations to the program.

RPM Advertising produced the spot entirely in-house. The idea was conceived by GCD Amy Wybo and ACD Bart Darress, who wrote the script, while chief creative director Larry Bessler directed Lovell at the Albany Park library, with freelance DP Peter Stepnoski on camera.  Both TV and radio spots were edited in-house. 

Lovell and Kurtis’ combined talents were over the moon, says Foundation chair Bob Wislow, “and will greatly help us attract the private donations that are necessary for this program.”

Just $10 sponsors a child in the eight-week program that includes field trips to the Adler Planetarium, the Museum of Science and Industry and a live LinkUp with the International Space Station.

“It’s the best investment return per child in the city,” Wislow says.

Here’s the spot.

And donations may be made here.

“Explore and Soar” was another space venture for the West Loop-based agency. In February it landed the Stafford Air & Space Museum in Weatherford, Okla., named for legendary astronaut Gen. Thomas P. Stafford, which has the most outstanding and unique collection of aerospace artifacts in the Southwestern United States.