National Geographic Kids will launch its largest campaign ever for its first 360-degree transmedia fiction franchise, Explorer Academy, at the National Book Festival on September 1, 2018. The first title in the seven-book, middle-grade series, Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret (September 4, 2018), written by Trudi Trueit, is inspired by the real adventures and fieldwork of National Geographic explorers.
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret brings together a diverse, multicultural cast of characters for a thrilling quest that combines science-based fact with futuristic fun. This uniquely interactive series invites readers to break codes and solve puzzles alongside Cruz and his friends as they travel the world aboard the ship Orion, immersing themselves in other cultures and learning about science and technology from real explorers in the field.
“We want kids to be inspired to explore and take on the mindset of explorers,” said Jennifer Emmett, National Geographic Kids’ Vice President for Content. “Kids who grow up to be explorers are the next caretakers of our planet, so we need to empower the whole generation.”
The Explorer Academy series is the initial phase in National Geographic’s 360-degree franchise launch, one that will include everything from online interactive elements to family entertainment centers around the world. The marketing campaign includes a kick-off at the National Book Festival, a NYC activation event, a national multi-market tour, movie theater promotions, a kid ambassador program, TV and radio promotion, transmedia scavenger hunts, and consumer advertising—reaching 38 million consumers.
As a headline sponsor of the National Book Festival, National Geographic will offer an array of activities for festival-goers, including in-booth and stage presentations from author Trudi Trueit and National Geographic Explorer Zoltan Takacs, a scavenger hunt, a code-breaking station, explorer trivia, and a virtual reality experience.
Following the National Book Festival, Trudi will embark on a North American tour, accompanied by Zoltan and beginning in New York City with a one-day Explorer Academy Recruitment Center activation. Visitors will test their skills to determine if they have what it takes to train at Explorer Academy. Additionally, they will discover what type of explorer they are destined to become. The event will be open to press and the public on September 5, 2018.
A local explorer will accompany Trudi to school visits, bookstore signings and press opportunities to promote the release of Explorer Academy in each of the following markets: New York City, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, and Seattle. The full tour schedule is online here.
Movie theaters in 10 top markets across the country will run the Explorer Academy book trailer over four weeks in the fall and distribute chapter samplers. Among the movie markets are Washington, Philadelphia, Dallas-Ft. Worth and San Francisco, in addition to several of the tour cities.
Lastly, one lucky family of four will win the Explorer Academy Sweepstakes—a shipboard adventure through Alaska’s Inside Passage, courtesy of National Geographic Expeditions (Entries accepted May 1, 2018–May 31, 2019 at exploreracademytrip.com).
Explorer Academy: The Nebula Secret is the first book published under the new National Geographic Kids Books fiction imprint, Under the Stars. Book two in the series and a companion codebreaking activity book are scheduled for publication in Spring 2019.