Boycott threatened over billboards in space

PHILADELPHIA -- A coalition of public interest and scientific groups Thursday threatened to organize an international boycott of any product advertised on a billboard in space.

State chapters of the Public Interest Research Group held news conferences across the country, including the United Nations, and picketed the headquarters of Space Marketing Inc., the Roswell, Ga. firm marketing the space billboards.


And the coalition, comprised of groups ranging from the Audubon Society to the International Astronomers Union, issued its boycott threat in a letter to Space Marketing Chief Executive Officer Mike Lawson.

'We urge you to withdraw your plans,' the letter said. 'A space billboard would destroy the serene nocturnal skyline, interfere with astronomical research and and star-gazing and become and unsightly distraction for anyone trying to enjoy the great outdoors.'

For a fee of $15 million to $30 million, Space Marketing is offering to advertise products on a mile-long mylar billboard that will be launched 180 miles into the air.

The billboard would orbit the earth for 30 days and appear to the naked eye about the size of the full moon. Its designers say it would only be visible at any given spot on earth for about 10 minutes a day.


But detractors say that's 10 minutes too long.

'This is one of the most offensive advertising ploys in the history of Madison Avenue,' said Sheila Ballen, executive director of the Pennsylvania chapter of PIRG.

'Imagine you're out in the wilderness, and you look up at the beautiful moon and right next to it there's a sign that says 'McDonalds, '' Ballen said, 'It's raping our environment when you commercialize space.'

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