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Area 51 and the Weirdness of the Internet

Ever wanted to see, up close and personal, the deep secrets held at Area 51? Do you want to see extraterrestrial life and technology? Perhaps you just want to head to the military facility to check it out.

Well, thanks to one Facebook event, 1.7 million people have signed up to raid the ultra-secretive base to, “See them aliens.”

It’s turned into the meme du jour, with inside jokes about busting out imprisoned alien life, chugging Monster Energy Drinks, and Naruto runs. It’s very weird stuff, and it’s very internet. It’s 2019 in a nutshell.

Of course the individual who created the Facebook event clearly meant it as a joke, that hasn’t stopped the U.S. Military from commenting on protecting its assets. It also opens up the possibility that some who are all-in on the meme actually show up.

But it’s also opened up pretty unique publicity and marketing avenues for brands online. Bud Light has unveiled Area 51 cans, branded with “We come in peace” on the label, and promises to make them available should their tweet reach 51K retweets (it’s at 38.8K as of writing this.)

The beer giant has also promised to provide free beer to any aliens who are rescued from the installation.

A pretty fine example of latching onto online momentum, joining in the fun, and gaining some brand visibility in the process.

But an Oklahoma animal shelter is using the Area 51 joke to promote something very important: pet adoption. Adorning some of their available pups in tinfoil hats, they’re encouraging people to “Storm the pet shelter,” adding that their pets will “Protect you from Area 51 aliens.” It’s a brilliant stroke of marketing that’s obviously gone viral, and displays a textbook understanding of leveraging trends online.

So while the whole Area 51 raid is just a giant joke, the opportunities that its created cannot be ignored. The internet is a very weird place, but sometimes your best marketing campaigns begin by latching on to and embracing the weirdness.  

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