Space Ads and You

by Auren Hoffman

I'm thankful that I'm not in a maximum security prison for more reasons than I can think of. I don't think I could handle being someone's Gimp, watching re-runs of the Honeymooners all day, or power weight lifting. Even though the living accommodations are probably a step up from my current situation (prisoners get styled!), I'd have to pass on going to jail if given the opportunity because of one overwhelming fact: I'd miss the simple pleasure of seeing the stars at night.

But in the future, we all might be in a prison. Some marketing vice president that lives in an underground hole came up with the fanciful idea of launching advertisements into space. These giant ads, covering many square miles, would orbit the earth at a very low altitude and promote a product or service. Imagine looking up at the sky hoping to see the Big Dipper but being greeted by a McDonald's golden arches instead.

Imagine looking up and seeing the beautiful North Star, only to see an advertisement next to it: "The North Star, sponsored by Energizer - it keeps on going and going and going ... "

... or "If the moon were really made of cheese, it would already be eaten - Milk, it does a body good!"

This sounds like a small matter in the realm of other international matters, but the world has gone commercial enough. The nations of earth should unite around a non-space ad treaty. No country does it and all countries impose sanctions against any company that tries it. Though I am fairly libertarian, this is certainly a matter where government has a place. It is not enough for the United States to unilaterally impose a ban (though that would be a good start), all the countries in the United Nations should participate.

The last physical location in our every-day lives that is sacred is outer space. There we look up and we realize that we are small and that our every day problems are not those of cosmic significance. The reason Yellowstone and other national parks are so popular today is because it is just you and a awe-filled wide open space (and don't forget the hot dog stand and the gift shop). But in our every day hustle and bustle, most of us don't get to see the wonders and the beauty of the earth on an everyday basis - so we have to settle for a place that is not on the earth.

Since the beginning of thought, man has stared into the heavens above to ponder, dream, and question. Now some advertising executive in an ivory tower in New York City wants our thoughts to be impeded by the logos of Coke, Nike, and Budweiser. "The truth is out there" - or at least Madison Avenue's version of the truth.

Copyright © 1997 Auren Hoffman. All Rights Reserved

Auren Hoffman is a recent graduate of UC Berkeley and now is a consultant with Kyber Systems (, an Internet database firm based in Berkeley, CA. Auren is the administrator for Guestimate ( and the former Executive Editor of the Internet Herald (