Capitalism is a plague that not even the stars can defy.
Have you ever looked up into a dark night sky, the stars shining down on you like shimmering light glinting off ebony waves, and thought to yourself, “It would be prettier with a Pepsi logo”? Well Russian company StartRocket has, and it seems as though PepsiCo agrees.
As reported by Futurism, PepsiCo has signed up to be the first client of StartRocket’s Orbital Display system – a network of satellites designed to shine advertisements down upon our irredeemable society from the heavens. The system is still under development, but Russian PepsiCo’s Olga Mangova told Futurism that the company “believe[s] in StartRocket potential”.
“Orbital billboards are the revolution on the market of communications,” said Mangova.
leading a guerilla faction to blow up the flying billboard adbots that will invade the night skies next decade, DM me to join
— 🚀 プ-プ💩 コルット 🚀 (@poopcult) April 15, 2019
It looks like an April Fool’s joke. It sounds like an April Fool’s joke. Yet here we are, over two weeks past April 1, and both PepsiCo and StartRocket insist the Orbital Display is real.
According to StartRocket, the 50km2 system will be comprised of CubeSats – 10cm3 satellites weighing around 1.33kg each that are typically used in low orbit. Using Mylar sails, it will reflect sunlight down to stargazers’ eyeballs from its position 400 to 500km above Earth, placing our gods of commercialism in the sky.
And the message that PepsiCo feels is so important it must be painted across the stars? A “campaign against stereotypes and unjustified prejudices against gamers”, in promotion of PepsiCo’s energy drink Adrenaline Rush. According to Kotaku, Adrenaline Rush’s ads have called the perception of gamers as toxic, immature children “the most unfair stereotype of the century”.
I can think of a couple of less fair ones, but sure.
The online reaction to inserting ads next to the Moon has been less than enthusiastic. Subsequently, PepsiCo has appeared to distance itself from the project, telling Gizmodo via email that it simply partook in an “exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements using the Adrenaline GameChangers logo”.
“This was a one-time event; we have no further plans to test or commercially use this technology at this time.”
In response, Jon Christian, the writer of Futurism‘s initial report, speculates that PepsiCo is backing off its initial plans due to the “horrified response” of the general public. Or, alternatively, he considers that PepsiCo may have never believed the project would get off the ground, and simply attached its name for publicity.
Christian further shared a screenshot of StartRocket’s initial press release stating that PepsiCo’s Adrenaline GameChangers logo “will be the first branded image on the StartRocket orbital display after its launch”.
I fact checked this with a Pepsi rep over email
Me: StartRocket says it’s struck a deal with Pepsico Russia such that the first orbital billboard will be an ad for an energy drink… Are you able to confirm whether that’s accurate?
Pepsi: Nice to meet you! Yes, that’s true.
— Jon Christian (@Jon_Christian) April 15, 2019
StartRocket is currently soliciting investments, hoping to raise $35 million by October this year, with the projected timeline placing the launch of the system in January 2021. Hopefully, we will have much longer than two more years to enjoy the stars.