Back in 2008, American beer company Rolling Rock ran a joke campaign where they told people they were going to project their logo onto the moon. Most waited in anticipation, some laughed and others thought they had been completely outdone in the viral marketing game. Lucky for Japanese company Otsuka the Rolling Rock dudes were joking all along, so they jumped at the opportunity to be the first company to legitimately put an ad on the moon. Probably a more fitting choice anyways considering the Japanese’s track record for questionable advertising.
The plan is to stick a 2.2 pound titanium can on the surface of the moon sometime in 2015. It will be the first lunar billboard ever. There’s no word on how big it will be or if we’ll actually be able to see it from Earth, but they plan on filling it with Pocari Sweat powder and children’s wishes. Yeah, wait what?
Well in addition to being a pharmaceutical company, Otsuka is also a sports drink manufacturer and like most non English products the translation is slightly lost. Pocari Sweat is a surprisingly popular sports drink in Asia and as the name suggests is used to replenish your body when it sweats. So it’s not some bizarre animal secretions or slang for ball sweat, just a good old fashioned sports drink for when you’re working out on the moon. They’ve also gone around Japanese primary schools collecting children’s dreams so they can cram them into their space billboard/ garbage can/ dream relic. The kids are handed a key that will be able to open the moon can and the letters will be laser etched onto titanium plates, because kids never lose things and always go to the moon. You can also go to their website and do this: Your dreams are now the property of Otsuka Ldt, they will not be returned. I can’t tell if the dreams are a marketing ploy or an elaborate way to gather souls and resurrect some demon on the moon, but on their press release they mentioned something about inspiring youth to land on the moon.
It’s already 2014 so I think it’s only natural that space travel jumps back into our collective wet dreams. Even with the budget cuts NASA has dealt with and the rift developing between American and Russian space agencies, the age of ambitious space initiatives seems to be upon us once again. The company that will leave the can on our moon, Astrobiotic Technology is competing in Google’s Lunar X prize where private teams try to land an object on the moon and have it beam back high definition pictures to earth (competition ends Dec 31st, 2015). There’s the Russians, Japanese, Chinese and Americans all flirting with the idea of a permanent moon base. The EU, India and South Korea are proposing to have lunar probing missions begin in the next 6 years and of course there’s the mission to Mars that will televise the astronaut selection process and probably everyday Mars life as some new form of horribly invasive reality TV. But in our attempt at bringing the moon and other planets closer to our doorstep do we risk turning them into marketing cesspools?
In all likelihood, probably. With more and more private organisations trying to move past the taboo of private space travel they will grow money-starved in no time. Private space travel used to be the thing of day dreams, now it seems more likely to be aimed at the pinnacle goal of any business: riding that sweet gravy moon train. But what exactly is protecting the moon or other space rocks from turning into an obnoxious strip mall or a chain of Domino’s pizzas? From the looks of it not too much. There’s a UN Outer Space Treaty signed and ratified by a number of nations (including those actually able to get to the moon) that outlines a bunch of broad things you can’t do on the moon like: put nukes on it, test military weapons on it, establish military bases or do any military manoeuvres. It also says that the moon can’t be claimed by any national government, but what about private companies and entrepreneurs?
The less popular follow up to the Outer Space Treaty was the Moon Treaty, which limits ownership of the moon and resource extraction to some form of non-existent international government or I guess to some extent the UN. Unfortunately, although this treaty has been around since the 80s only 16 states have signed and ratified it. Few of which have actually gone to space. What’s even more damning to the whole thing, none of the members of the security council have actually signed the treaty. This essentially makes the whole treaty about as effective as a limp dick. So where does that leave us? With a nuke-less moon, but other than that most other things go. I’m sure as a new space race heats up there will be a gaggle of yes men lawyers ready and willing to bend the rules to the corporate game. Thankfully the Swedes have come up with another alternative for the moon: A simple art installation that will likely confuse whatever aliens stumble upon it.
The same company that’s bringing Otsuka’s can of moon sports powder is also going to bring a red Swedish house dubbed the “Moonhouse” onto the surface. Much like Otsuka they hope to inspire people and remind them of the limitless possibilities of the human race, minus the suspicious corporate undertone of moon sports drink powder. I actually find this idea the most appealing and likely to open ‘moon dialogue’, if that’s even a thing. It’s cool because it follows suit with the UN space treaty and uses the moon in a way that can be appreciated by all of mankind while avoiding turning it into a corporate, military, government installation that make us look like unrefined pricks to whatever aliens are out there. It also gives average folks real inspiration about how far fetched a dream can be, after all the Moonhouse was just some artist’s goofy idea that happened to pick up steam and work. So yeah, you work on that yoga inspired, performance art, thrash metal, EP/finger painting collage. Ain’t nothing wrong with that.
For your viewing pleasure, a Japanese Domino’s pizza commercial talking about their soon to be moon branch:
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