Wednesday, April 02, 2008

April Fooled by Google and Virgin?

If you don't buy this joke, we'll kill this billionaire. Now, that's satire!

Now that Google has effectively conquered Earth, the all-powerful Web giant is setting its sites on a new frontier: Mars.

Calling it "The Adventure of Many Lifetimes," Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin just announced a joint venture with Virgin CEO Sir Richard Branson to colonize the Red Planet because, as the press release states, "Earth has issues, and it's time humanity got started on a Plan B."

Uhhhh, right. Happy April Fool's Day, folks.

There's nothing funnier than billion-dollar corporations taking time out of their busy multinational money-making days for a little light humor.

Here's what's been announced on the Google blog:

"For thousands of years, the human race has spread out across the Earth, scaling mountains and plying the oceans, planting crops and building highways, raising skyscrapers and atmospheric CO2 levels, and observing, with tremendous and unflagging enthusiasm, the Biblical injunction to be fruitful and multiply across our world's every last nook, cranny and subdivision ... So, starting in 2014, Virgin founder Richard Branson and Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin will be leading hundreds of users on one of the grandest adventures in human history: Project Virgle, the first permanent human colony on Mars."

Why Mars? Google representative Andrew Peterson cleverly dodged the question, explaining, "Because software engineering isn't rocket science, producing truly stellar products requires us to boldly innovate where no technology company has innovated before."

Ah, corporate branding still going strong in the midst of April 1st tomfoolery.

The blogosphere buzzed Tuesday morning with reactions ranging from amusement to confusion to irritation. Blame the economic turmoil, the Iraq war or the increasingly bitter presidential campaign for the less-than-warm reception: "I mean, hohoho, some of the richest men on Earth have done something to benefit humanity," one commenter writes. From another: "If this were real, China would beat us to it." Others scoffed that Google actually pays employees to produce these pranks. "A joke should have an element of humor. This one seems very sad. It's a shame they wouldn't contribute to something that monumental."

Hashem Bajwa, digital planning director at the San Francisco-based ad agency Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, itself part of a satirical moon-based ad campaign for Rolling Rock, notes the irony of this year's Google gag: "It's not a total disconnect from what Google does. So many people are asking, what will Google do next? If anyone would do it, it would be Google."

Google's brand is known for both its ambition and its quirkiness, and the company's logo "Do No Evil" seems to allude to the power it wields. In fact, Google has teamed up with the world's top astronomers to create "Google Sky," a new feature that allows anyone with a computer and Internet connection to "to browse and explore the universe" through the Hubble Space Telescope; Googlers will even be able to see the universe at x-ray or infrared wavelengths.

That one's not a joke. And if nothing else, it's a good jumping-off point for Mars.

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