Saturday, March 8, 2008
A British advert for crisp favourite Doritos is to become the first commercial ever to be beamed into space, it was revealed today.
The cosmic stunt will see the snack giant beam a 30-second ad beyond the Earth's atmosphere and into the universe for any aliens that may be watching.
And they are inviting Britons to create the commercial with the winning entry being transmitted from a Norwegian space centre.
The ultra-high frequency signal will be directed at a solar system 42 light years away from Earth with planets that orbit a star similar to our Sun.
The star is in the Ursa Major constellation, also known as the Great Bear or Plough, and scientists say some of the small planets might support extra-terrestrial life.
Peter Charles, head of the £150,000 project for Doritos, held out the prospect of aliens being tempted by tortilla corn chips.
He said: "Hopefully, like humans, they will think our chips look absolutely delicious and want to try some.
"If the first word the aliens say when they land in their spaceship is Doritos, we will be delighted.
"The signal takes years to reach the star but if there are any aliens on the way here already maybe they will pick it up."
The project is being backed by astronomers from Leicester University and European scientific association (EISCAT), which runs the space centre in Svalbard in far northern Norway.
EISCAT director Professor Tony van Eyken said: "Broadcasting an advert extra-terrestrially is a big and exciting step for everyone on Earth as up until now we have only tended to listen out for incoming transmissions.
"If there were to be any response, it would change the face of humanity instantly.
"There have been reports that Nasa beamed a Beatles song towards the Polaris star system - though, as this is a 1,000 light-year round trip, it's highly unlikely it will ever be received by extra-terrestrials.
"With the transmission technology and planning we are employing, there is a much greater chance that the Doritos advert will potentially be seen by billions of aliens."
The professor said that the star, called '47 Ursae Majoris, had been specially chosen for the project.
He explained: "There are so many stars out there that in all probability somewhere in the universe there is intelligent life like us but we have never found any conclusive evidence of it.
"This star has two large, Jupiter-like planets around it, which might sustain life but not as we know it.
"If you are going to broadcast to aliens, you want them to be sufficiently like us to be able to understand what you are saying.
"With that in mind, it should also have a habitable zone where there could well be smaller planets like the Earth with alien life not too dissimilar from us and we are targeting them."
Doritos has previously screened 30-second ads in the US at halftime of the Superbowl. Mr Charles said: "We had an audience of 90million viewers.
"There is only one audience much bigger than that - the rest of the universe. It is the biggest untapped market out there.
"By broadcasting the winning ad to the universe, Doritos is giving someone from this country the chance of a lifetime to go down in history as the creator of the first ever extra-terrestrial advert."
The ad will be broadcast as part of Doritos' 'You Make It, We Play It' campaign in June from a 500 MHz ultra-high frequency radar at the space centre.
The winning filmmaker will land £20,000 and their ad will also be aired on the more conventional medium of British TV.
Entries can be submitted at www.doritos.co.uk and the closing date for the
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