Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Victoria Strauss -- Moon Publicity

So okay, this doesn't have to do with writing (unless of course it sparks an idea for a story. Or a publicity strategy). But it's so bizarre I couldn't resist featuring it.

Advertising is everywhere. It bombards us at every moment and from every side (if you have an ebook reader, watch out--it will soon be there as well). There's a dilemma for advertisers, though--the more advertising there is, the more desensitized to it we become. So what's an advertiser to do? What new publicity frontier might blast through ad overload, and seize the public's tired eyeballs?

How about the moon?

A company called Moon Publicity is promising to use robots to create advertising images on the moon. The company's "Shadow Shaping" technology will create "several small ridges in the lunar dust over large areas that capture shadows and shape them to form logos, domains [sic] names or memorials."

Never in the history of advertising has the possibility of penetrating every market on Earth, reaching every person on the planet, and touching them at emotional level only possible with the beauty of the moon on a starlit night, been made available. Twelve billion eyeballs looking at your logo in the sky for several days every month for the next several thousand years.

Specifics are notably lacking from Moon Publicity's website, including technical specifications (although allegedly the technology is patent pending), how the robots will be manufactured and delivered, when this might happen, and who exactly is behind the company--although the website does identify various important challenges, such as...gravity. "Shadow Shaping robots will need to be lightweight and compact, at least during transportation."

Nevertheless, "Exclusive transferable licensing is being made available for 44 regions of the visible side of the Moon." (This handy, clickable Guide breaks the regions down.) Bidding began July 20, and closes October 20. Minimum bid, for one of the regions at the very bottom: $46,000. For the most desirable area--the Mare Vaporum, smack in the middle of the moon's visible side--it's a bit higher: $602,000, to be precise.

Are they kidding???

A bit of digging reveals that the Moon Publicity URL is registered to David Jones of MegaNova, a Utah company that appears to be a creator of educational websites. According to this brief bio, David Jones is a software developer and engineer who "has engineered infant life-support devices, bomb detectors, robots, military training systems, and satellite communication systems."

Only in Utah, I'm thinking.

23 comments:

Gehayi said...

David Jones might run into a little trouble from Dennis Hope, a Nevada businessman who not only claims that he owns the moon, but who says he's the interim president of the first known galactic government.

Honest to God, though, I hope that Jones leaves the moon be. We don't NEED the Coca-Cola logo carved into it.

Jenna said...

Eep, that's...well, the only word that comes to mind is "stupid."

No, wait. Another one is "tacky."

Although it may make an interesting story, now that I think of it. Hmm...

Lol. :)

Anonymous said...

Good lord, is nothing sacred?

Apart from the fact that I think such an enterprise will never be possible, just the audacity of this frustrates me to no end.

What is the moon to people? It represents so much! What is a romantic night without taking the time to look up at the moon and stars and take in their beauty? Will such memories be forever marred by seeing, instead of the untouched beauty of a celestial body, a floating billboard advertising burger king? I think so.

If such a thing were actually to happen, I would be the first to boycott any establishment to participate in such a scheme.

Every day, humanity disappoints me more and more...

Marissa Doyle said...

Has nobody read Heinlein's 1950 story "The Man Who Sold the Moon"? The idea isn't new.

Raethe said...

Alright, well, that IS pretty bizarre.

And awfully sad. I like looking at the moon the way it is!

Jane Smith said...

Victoria, are you SURE it's not April the first?

In the late 1980s I was loosely involved in the environmental movement, and I can remember Greenpeace using a film projector to display anti-whaling slogans on whaling boats and corporate buildings: when I first read your piece I thought that this was the sort of thing which was being suggested. But robots? Moon-mining ROBOTS? Good lord. My mineral-surveyor husband will be delighted by this one.

DeadlyAccurate said...

I suspect the rest of the world might have an opinion about this venture, too.

Marsupialus said...

Victoria,

The NY Times had a piece in their annual ideas roundup about someone trying to project advertising on the moon with a powerful laser. Turns out it was a hoax and a PR stunt for some part of NASA. This doesn't sound that much different.

Armand K. said...

For some strange (?) reason, this article reminds me of an older "political/cold war" joke. It was something along the lines:

Defeated in their race for the first to walk on the Moon, the Sovietics decided to do something even more impressive. So they sent a fleet "up there" and had the visible side all painted in red, the color of their flag. The Americans initially were very upset about this, until someone had a spark of genius: "Hey, let's just send a rocket and write 'Coca-Cola' on it!"

Janet said...

I'm thinking that any company that sullied the beauty of the moon with advertising would deserve to be boycotted to death. That's a real winner: tick off 95% of the earth's population as an advertising ploy.

Andra M. said...

Nope, this idea isn't knew.

Fans of "The Tick" cartoon ought to remember Chair Head. He tried to carve his name into the moon with a laser, but The Tick stopped him at "CHA".

Anonymous said...

It not only shows a complete lack of respect for the universe, it's also blatantly unworkable. To make those bots and get them to the moon will cost so much money that it's simply not going to be cost effective. And everyone who runs a company and is willing to spend over half a million dollar on a advertising spot when most of the world population is sleeping deserves to go bankrupt.

InsideOutMan said...

Total scam.

There are treaties governing what you can and can't do in space. For starters the moon cannot be owned by any nation or company. On top of that if you intend to send ventures to the moon your country needs to get permission from the U.N. I'm quite sure they would quash any venture that proposes defacing the geology of the moon for commercial gain.

Patience-please said...

But, hmmmm. they got their company name out there.
Good grief.

Sarah Laurenson said...

Hm. Are those people still waiting on the red rocks of Sedona for their spaceship to pick them up? Or did they settle out of court with the guy selling them tickets?

Is it idiocy to sell advertising on the moon? Or to buy it?

$600K is not much more than a Super Bowl ad. Sometimes they can be more than that, especially with how much goes into creating one.

Philidephia Enquirer and Daily News decided to test newspaper advertising when they placed a bogus ad for a new airlines that would charge by the pound. It went viral. We'll see how far the moon guy gets.

Liana Brooks said...

No, not only in Utah, the idea is old. It was in the Red Dwarf series run by BBC and the consequent spin-off books.

Although there they didn't stop with the moon, they were making stars go nova to spell out logos.

*sigh*

Victoria Strauss said...

What's amazing to me about this whole thing isn't that this guy thinks he can use robots to create advertising images on the moon (as others have pointed out, it's an absurd idea, and not exactly original), but that he is attempting to get people to pay him hundreds of thousands of dollars to participate in this scheme.

It seems too outlandish to be a scam--I mean, if you were really going to run a scam like this, it seems to me that you'd go to a bit more trouble to make it look plausible. So is he just deluded? Is it a hoax? I can't figure it out.

AnneMarble said...

Didn't I see something like this in an old Disney comic book? I think someone tried to paint the moon to make it disappear.

Anonymous said...

Also, I didn't realize until yesterday when I discussed this with my father. Unless you buy all the 44 regions on the visible side of the moon, you won't have the entire world population watching, because 1 region isn't large enough to be seen with the naked eye. Only astronomers and people with telescopes would be able to see those advertisements.

Eirin said...

My goodness.
When did Zorglub move to Utah?

Armand K. said...

"It seems too outlandish to be a scam"

I'm not so sure about this, Victoria. Some years ago I've seen _stars_ offered for sale around the Internet...

I agree the idea isn't new at all. It's at least as old as Heinlein's writings.

Deb said...

Save the moon for the Bat-sign. That way Batman will be able to see, come and save us from all types of crime-and-or-evil. Including ignorant folk.

Anonymous said...

No wonder Amaericans are so loved around the world.

Tasteless vulgarity, nothing g less.