History & Marketing Strategies of National Geographic

Company/Organization Name –National Geographic
Founder –Alexander Graham Bell along with thirty three original founders 

One of the leading and most popular non-profit, educational and scientific organizations across the globe, National Geographic or National Geographic Society has its headquarters in Washington D.C and since 1888, it has been synonymous with natural science, geography, archaeology, study of the global culture, historical and environmental conservation and more.

With over 6.8 million members throughout the world, National Geographic is now administered by the board of trustees in accordance with Chairman Jean Case and President-CEO Tracy Wolstencroft. 

How It All Started

Since 13th January, 1888, National Geographic has been following its zeal of innovation, discoveries and impact. The bright and glossy covered National Geographic magazine consisting of extensive details regarding researches, travelogues and information, had started its journey in October, 1888 after the first issue was sent to around 200 members of the society. 

The organization was formed with the help from distinguished educators, researchers, conservationists, naturalists, lawyers, military leaders, business executives as well as former government officials in order to enhance and spread geographical knowledge. On 13th January in 1888, a group of elite and wealthy patrons and academics met at the Cosmos Club on Washington D.C’s Lafayette Square.

Apart from Graham Bell, there were Marcus Baker, Frank Baker, Arthur Powell Davis, George Kennan, Henry Mitchell, Israel Russell etc. On 27th January, the organization started officially and the first elected President was Gardiner Greene Hubbard.  



Throughout the 130 years till 2019, National Geographic has been striving to make a change and create an impact through photographs, video footage, inside stories, artifacts and more.  Hubbard was followed by Alexander Graham Bell, his son-in-law in 1897 and in 1899, Gilbert Hovey Grosvenor, Graham’s son-in-law was appointed as the full-time editor for the magazine.

Together they served National Geographic till 1954 by devising successful notion of marketing for society membership, for example, the use of photographs in magazines to depict stories. 

A lot of awards and accolades soon followed by due to leadership, communication, conservation strategies, humanities etc and the headquarters of National Geographic too earned the Green certification due to its eco-friendly practices. 

The partnership with the 21st Century Fox production has put a new feather in Nat Geo’s cap as it resulted in the introduction of the TV channels, magazine in about forty local language editions, school and educational journals, maps, books as well as movie and web series to be accessible to over 280 million all over the world. 


National Geographic’s Marketing Strategy and Interesting Reasons behind Its Success

  • In order to show a different world to people through the perspectives of photographers, explorers, naturalists, filmmakers and journalists, National Geographic has various divisions namely Nat Geo Wild, Nat Geo Travel, Nat Geo People, Nat Geo Kids and Nat Geo Music. 
  • With 21st Century Fox, National Geographic tries to promote the educational and conservational efforts along with consumer products like camera accessories, movies and food through social and digital media platforms.
  •  The research and expeditions to different corners of the world are funded by National Geographic Society every year and through the conservation projects and researches of ecosystem, lifestyle and rituals at the remotest of places, new generations are inspired to initiate their efforts for a better future. 
  • Although National Geographic Magazine first made its debut in 1888’s October as the official journal of the society, the magazine along with the regional Natgeotraveller Magazines are circulated monthly throughout the year where readers can learn about world history, culture and rituals, current affairs, science and geography simultaneously. 


National Geographic Campaigns 

As National Geographic Society’s main and far-fetched campaign is through the educational and digital media, the society has come up with the following campaign ideas to be incorporated along with the flagship National Geographic magazine.

-National Geographic Traveler or Natgeotraveller was launched with around eighteen local language versions in 1984 and is running on ever so successfully with the contribution from people from the respective geographical boundaries. 

-For building awareness among kids, National Geographic Kids with eighteen language editions was launched in the U.S in 1975 followed by in Egypt in 2007. For kids in the age group of three to six years old, National Geographic Little Kids came out in the global market. 

 -By replacing the National Geographic School Bulletin, the classroom magazine of National Geographic World was launched in 1975 and in 2001, the National Geographic Explorer was introduced along with National Geographic Kids as separated segment from Nat Geo World. Quite recently in 2015, the National Geographic Society magazine started. 

Films being one of the easiest medium to reach out to wider audience, National Geographic Society created the subsidiary of National Geographic Films that is taxable and wholly owned. From K-19: The Widowmaker in 2002 about a submarine commander from Russia to the Academy Award winner French documentary March of the Penguins in 2005 –the films have been wholeheartedly accepted by the global audience. The Arctic Tale in 2007 depicting story of polar bears and walrus, The Last Lions in 2011, Sea Monsters in 2007 are also notable. 

On 12th January in 2001, 21st Century Fox in collaboration with National Geographic Television & Film, the TV network of National Geographic was started. It also has the sister TV channel named Nast Geo Wild that is more dedicated towards animal themed portrayals.

The ‘90s: The Last Great Decade and The 2000s: A New Reality are the two most high-rated shows of the channel and as a matter of fact, both had narration by Rob Lowe. Scientists and naturalists like Jane Goodall, Louis Leakey and Jacques Coustau had featured their stories here and narrations were done by renowned actors like Glenn Close, Susan Sarandon, Peter Strauss etc. 

In order to make people aware of the initiatives of photographers, conservationists, naturalists and scientists not only through digital but also physical form, the National Geographic Museum was established in Washington D.C. where people can check out magazine issues since the starting days, learn about history, culture, natural history, technology and scientific advancement and various artifacts. 



While being respectful, adaptive and flexible towards any ecosystem and authenticity of a cultural community, the National Geographic Society has been encouraging people to ignite their inner-explorer to move “further” and learn more about the world and beyond. In these 130 years of journey, the organization has refrained from spreading falsity and dispatched only live properly researched content.

Challenges are many such as the lack of resources in respect to requirement of the inhabitants of the planet and irresponsible act of the mankind in harming the flora and fauna. But by driving innovation and securing nature with like-minded people, National Geographic Society has garnered its effort of effective storytelling.  

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