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Russia to help Pizza Hut literally launch its logo

Published Oct. 1, 1999|Updated Sep. 30, 2005

Pizza Hut wanted a billboard on the moon. It settled for a Russian rocket bound for space.

The company announced Thursday that it would pay the cash-starved Russian space agency about half the price of a 30-second TV ad during the Super Bowl, currently up to $2.5-million, for the right to paint its logo on a Russian Proton rocket.

The rocket is scheduled to blast off in mid-November with the living quarters for the International Space Station.

The segment carrying the Pizza Hut logo will be cast off and will burn up in the atmosphere. But Pizza Hut marketers are counting on the minutes leading up to liftoff and the sight of the engines firing under the company's red-roof logo to give them enough film footage to fuel years of advertising.

Although the stunt shows how space could be the next commercial frontier, don't expect American spacecraft to look like NASCAR cars any time soon.

While U.S. law doesn't preclude placing corporate logos on American spacecraft, NASA would not consider it on taxpayer property, agency spokesman Brian Welch said Thursday.

Still, Daniel Tam, NASA's assistant to the administrator for commercialization, said space agencies need to think about the marketing potential they can offer in an era of shrinking budgets for space exploration:

"We want to find a way to get the commercial sector involved as fast as possible and effectively as possible so that we can explore beyond the solar system."

Pizza Hut marketers first considered burning a billboard into the moon with lasers, chief executive officer Mike Rawlings said. But scientists advised that the image would have to be the size of Texas to be seen by earthlings more than 238,000 miles away.


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