Pepsi is not planning to broadcast an ad about gamers on the sky

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You may have seen a story go viral over the weekend about a plan to broadcast ads on orbital billboards in the night sky (opens in new tab), with the first being for PepsiCo's energy drink Adrenaline Rush as part of a "campaign against stereotypes and unjustified prejudices against gamers".

It's certainly an attention-grabbing story, like something out of a cyberpunk book. The Russian company behind the plan is called StartRocket, and they've apparently tested the idea by using a helium balloon to carry a reflector up into the stratosphere.

For an idea what Adrenaline Rush ads look like, and why the campaign would involve videogames, you can watch one of their ordinary terrestrial commercials (opens in new tab).

Don't start investing in rocket launchers yet, however. We reached out to PepsiCo to ask if they really were planning to beam ads over the stars and received the following statement: 

"We can confirm StartRocket performed an exploratory test for stratosphere advertisements using the Adrenaline GameChangers logo. This was a one-time event; we have no further plans to test or commercially use this technology at this time."

So there you have it. Yes, it's a real thing that really was tested, which on its own is frightening. But, no, Pepsi isn't currently planning to smear its logos over the stars leading to an inevitable escalation that ends with Coca-Cola lasering their brand into the moon or something. And yes, fighting stereotypes about people who play videogames with obnoxious energy drink advertisements is an idea beyond parody.

Jody Macgregor
Weekend/AU Editor

Jody's first computer was a Commodore 64, so he remembers having to use a code wheel to play Pool of Radiance. A former music journalist who interviewed everyone from Giorgio Moroder to Trent Reznor, Jody also co-hosted Australia's first radio show about videogames, Zed Games (opens in new tab). He's written for Rock Paper Shotgun (opens in new tab), The Big Issue, GamesRadar (opens in new tab), Zam (opens in new tab), Glixel (opens in new tab), Five Out of Ten Magazine (opens in new tab), and Playboy.com (opens in new tab), whose cheques with the bunny logo made for fun conversations at the bank. Jody's first article for PC Gamer was about the audio of Alien Isolation, published in 2015, and since then he's written about why Silent Hill belongs on PC, why Recettear: An Item Shop's Tale is the best fantasy shopkeeper tycoon game, and how weird Lost Ark can get. Jody edited PC Gamer Indie from 2017 to 2018, and he eventually lived up to his promise to play every Warhammer videogame.