How Tombras Is Tempting Alien Life Forms With MoonPies

The truth is out there. How about a snack?

They are among us. So, why not sell them MoonPies? 

That's the thrust of a new "Alien Acquisition"-themed campaign the snack brand created with agency Tombras.

Elements including billboards, boat banners and drones have been deployed in UFO hotspots, including London, Tokyo—and Roswell New Mexico, of course. All messages are shared through Lincos, a language extraterrestrials just might understand.

Human beings, who have been nibbling on MoonPies for more than 100 years, can learn more about the effort in a short film that features interviews with actual UFO experts:

Here, Avinash Baliga, executive creative director of Tombras New York, unpacks the attempt to attract an alien customer base. 

MUSE: What was the thinking behind this campaign.

Avinash Baliga: On July 26, when experts testified in Congress that aliens not only exist but are likely here among us, we knew we had to find a way to reach this new audience. What if they liked chocolate-covered graham crackers with a marshmallow center? We couldn't let that business opportunity slip away. 

How did the client react when you pitched this idea? 

The tone of the brand has always been fun and quirky, with a keen sense of culture. So, with all the conversation around aliens this year, MoonPie knew they had a role to play. Also, for a celestially named product, the connection with extraterrestrial visitors was obvious.

Were the UAP (unidentified aerial phenomenon) experts skeptical about your intentions when you approached them?

We were open, transparent and respectful about the intent of the campaign. And while it may appear absurd, we went into this with utmost seriousness, and the experts sensed this. They have spent their lives researching the finer aspects of identifying and communicating with extraterrestrials. They possess a wealth of information, and we wanted to understand everything they knew. One of the experts, Sean Cahill, even mentioned that if the campaign were to be successful and a non-human life form made contact, it would validate a lifetime of effort.

How did you create the alien language used throughout the campaign?

All credit goes to Daniel Oberhaus, the alien language linguistics expert. He's the author of Extraterrestrial Languages. He helped translate this campaign into Lincos, designed to communicate with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The process was especially challenging because the language is still in its early stages and has a reduced vocabulary. So, we had to work around these challenges and still write headlines that aliens will find compelling. 

Are you confident that off-world beings are open to receiving advertising messages from humans?

We were deliberate and did months of research on what kind of messages to send them. Every part of this campaign is based on the insights the researchers gave us. And while it may appear to be just an ad campaign, we'd like to believe that aliens will read this gesture as a sign that we want to welcome them and break bread—or chocolate-covered cookies—with them. 

Christine Champagne
Muse contributor Christine Champagne is a writer based in NYC.

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