Notes from the mediascape: Doritos vying to send first ad into outer space

After whipping up UGC excitement among Brits, Frito-Lay plans to broadcast a 30-second spot from a space centre in the Arctic Ocean. No word on whether they've done enough market research to be sure 'Doritos' isn't a war-of-the-worlds-provoking insult in Martian or Venutian.

Who knew that when Frito-Lay chose ‘Prepare to take snacking to a higher level’ as a tagline for Doritos, the company was thinking literally?

But if all goes according to plan on June 12, the snack food giant will snag bragging rights for being the first marketer to blast an ad beyond Earth’s solar system. With help from British space scientists, a 30-second spot for Doritos will be aimed at what can only be termed the ultimate niche demographic.

To make the history-making initiative truly a message from Earthlings, British consumers are currently being invited to submit videos about life on their planet. Dubbed ‘You Make It, We Play It,’ the UGC campaign’s winning spot – which will net its maker £20,000 – will be beamed past Earth’s atmosphere and into the universe, after which it will also air on terrestrial TV.

The Doritos spot will be sent from the EISCAT Space Centre in the Arctic Ocean, about halfway between the North Pole and northern Norway, to a solar system 42 light years away, an area that’s thought to contain a habitable zone.

‘Broadcasting an advert extraterrestrially is a big and exciting step for everyone on Earth, as until now, we’ve only tended to listen for incoming transmissions,’ says EISCAT director Tony van Eyken. And he proudly adds that the chances of the Doritos spot actually being heard by someone ‘out there’ are better than the possibility that a Beatles song NASA recently sent to the Polaris star system will ever set extraterrestrial toes (if any) tapping.

Adds fellow space scientist Darren Wright: ‘There could also be potential commercial interest in enterprises like this. Imagine one day that companies on Earth might wish to advertise to other planetary colonies within our solar system.’

Sounds exciting. But MiC can’t help wondering about the risk that interplanetary squabbling might be sparked if health-conscious aliens consider extolling a fattening snack food an aggressive act.