October 1, 1999

What's Wrong with this Picture?


Pizza Hut Rocket


This is what the November launch of a Russian rocket, carrying the living quarters for the new International Space Station, is supposed to look like. Pizza Hut is paying the Russian space agency around 2.5 Million American Dollars for the privilege of having its logo blasted into space, creating an image that will burn into our brains well into the next millenium.

I know space agencies need money, and that commercial enterprises have money to burn (pun intended!) but, as with the commercialized Olympics, this practical solution takes some of the heart and soul, and definitely the mystique, out of the venture that it supports.

The logo on that rocket turns a majestic sight into a bad joke. It trivializes one of man's most remarkable accomplishments. If our physical feats and scientific triumphs are made to resemble a used car commerical, what will we have to aspire to? How will we know what is special, sacred?

There must be some middle ground, some tasteful way to have these events sponsored. A rocket launch is not a Super Bowl stunt, and shouldn't appear to have the same importance by the misuse of images.

The flip side of this is the long-running practice of using certain music and images in commercials. I doubt those responsible for the carvings on Mt. Rushmore ever foresaw their use in a yogurt ad. The worst example of all this, though, was the Canadian bank that played "The Times they are a'Changing" in the background of their ad promoting computer services. Now, that song is a sacred anthem to an entire generation, and I deeply resented its appropriation for commercial purposes. I don't know what Bob Dylan (or whoever has his rights) was thinking, assuming permission was granted.

I shudder to speculate on what might be next. Will Harvard graduates have a beer can tastefully emblazoned on their diplomas? Just Do It.. on the Great Wall of China, in letters visible from space? Will pastors wear tshirts? (This sermon brought to you by Ivory.. remember, cleanliness is next to Godliness..) Perhaps Kleenex will become the official tissue of the Wailing Wall!

As most generations before us, we are not leaving the world a better place.


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AP photo lifted from this CNN Website