"If you're watching this right now, it means you might be an alien."
Well, it's possible. We never actually wondered whether our origin stories were a cover produced by people paid to be our parents.
That phrase comes from the trailer video for "Visit Earth." Created for Russia's S7 Airlines, the six-part web series is targeted to extraterrestrial tourists … and was actually beamed into space to try to reach them.
Directed by Popcorn's Mackenzie Sheppard, and conceived and written by Wieden & Kennedy Amsterdam, each bombastic episode introduces people to a different aspect of Earthly livin'. They were shot in a scattering of countries, chosen (for reasons as-yet secret) to represent our ways: Iceland, Italy, Japan, Thailand and, of course, Russia.
Here's "Nature." Learn about rocks, air, water, sky! It's delightful. Also, there's much nakedness, and we're not talking about the whales. We hope aliens don't show up someplace random, convinced this is a thing.
Next, learn about "Food"—a comically unwieldy effort to explain how Earthlings ingest fuel to live. Learn "what kind of food to eat and at what moment it is best to eat it."
That's not as facetious as it sounds; our three main "fueling cycles" are explained as revolving around the movements of "Sun." (That sounds obvious, but we never really thought about it that way.)
The videos are a nice mix between standard tourism fare and painstaking explanations of cultural norms, so backbreaking in their efforts to describe what we take for granted that we're reminded of the absurd, but strangely insightful, Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. It must have been super-fun for planners to work on.
Episode 3 is about "Parties." We don't care about "parties" so we skipped it. One of the benefits of knowing the lay of the land is that you can cherrypick your joys, like a Venetian who knows to avoid the Rialto whenever humanly possible.
As mentioned, "Visit Earth" was actually beamed into space—on Nov. 23, by Bauman Moscow State Technical University, using an RT 7.5 radio telescope and a transmitter made for the purpose. The signal will reach exoplanet Gliese 581c in 20 years.
Have some "Art"!
"The mission of the S7 Airlines brand is to inspire people to travel," says marketing director Eleonora Romanova. "Nowadays, with TV views decreasing and younger audiences turning more to online platforms, unusual content is increasingly in demand." (Don't we know it.) She continues, "This presented us with an opportunity to engage and inspire our audience in a different way."
Below is "Sports," preceded by a handy physics lesson meant to justify why we do things like cheese-bowl or competitively bike-ride.
You even get a helpful rule of thumb for identifying the subject in question: Ball. "Wherever you find ball, you find sport," the narrator says. A gush about the joys of "ball" is followed by a kid explaining why this is such a good metric: Balls are simply not useful for anything else. (Well, maybe Sony Bravia ads.)
Altogether, the films have generated over 35 million views. Russian viewers can also opt to become "Earth Ambassadors," charged with creating travel guides for aliens, to win airline tickets.
We conclude with what may well be the most abstract episode of all: "Love."
"Love is what allows us to reach beyond that great star at the center of our solar system and grasp something beyond ourselves, something eternal," the narrator says. "So that, when our life force leaves this planet, destination unknown, we'll know it wasn't all for nothing."
We remain hopeful that, of all our strange customs, this idea will be easiest for our intergalactic comrades to understand. We also hope they keep it in mind when we kidnap their backpacking kin for the sake of science.
VP Operations: Tatiana Fileva
Marketing Director: Eleonora Romanova
Marketing Communications Director: Natalia Kozlova
Brand Manager: Kristina Slavnikova
Head of Creative Group: Konstantin Belyakov
Head of Production Group: Alexey Krasnov
Production Manager: Maria Artemchuk
Head of PR: Anna Bazhina
Head of Direct Communications: Elmira Agaeva
PR: Anna Bazhina
Head of B2C Communications: Yana Chupina
Media Group Head: Irina Nekrasova
Executive Creative Director: Eric Quennoy, Mark Bernath
Creative Director: Evgeny Primachenko, Joe Burrin
Art Director: Emma Mällinen
Copywriter (Narrator): Chris Taylor
Head of Integrated Production: Joe Togneri
Broadcast Producer: Jaime Tan, Pavel Ananich
Group Account Director: Kirk Johnsen
Account Director: Jorge Fesser
Account Manager: Yulia Prokhorova
Head of Planning: Martin Weigel
Planner: Alex Janneau
Comms Strategist: Jocelyn Reist
Art Buyer: Rachel Perry
Head of Design: Joe Burrin
Studio Director: Lizzie Murray
Motion Designer: Gustav von Platen
Studio Artist: Noa Redero
Project Manager: Katie Finn, Cory Chonko
Business Affairs: Akvilina Jaskunaite
Production Company: Popcorn Brain BV
Director: Mackenzie Sheppard
Director of Photography: Ian Avery Holliday
Producer: Tjalf Melle van Dijkhuizen, Stefany Rietkerk
Executive Producer: Diego Molina, Daniel Bruce
Editing Company: Ambassadors, Wieden+Kennedy Amsterdam
Editors: Oscar Marmelstein, Meghan Sims, Joe Walton,
Audio Post: Ambassadors
Sound Designer/Mixer: Rens Pluijm
Composers: Sebastiaan Roestenburg, Rens Pluijm, Ed Meijaard
Sound Producer: Zoe de Regt
Music Company: Ambassadors
Creative Production Studio: Ambassadors
Managing Director: Hannah Glazenbrook
Head of Operations: Gayle van Bochoven
VFX Supervisors: Stephen Pepper, Sil Bulterman, Bas Moonen, Inti Martinez & Jeroen van Berkel
3D: Will Jeffers, Ivor Ribeiro da Silva, Robin van As, Ralph Meijer, Jeroen Cloosterman, Sjoerd de Greef
Colorist: Matt Hare
Associate Design & Animation Director: Nick Groeneveld, Jurriën Boogert
Design: Jurriën Boogert, Maureen van der Hout, Rachelle Slingerland
Animation: Nick Groeneveld
Senior Producer: Bo Kops, Brittany Blazer
Creative Director: Vincent Lammers