"Why die on Mars when you can live in South Dakota?"
That's the question posed in a new ad unveiled last week by the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development.
The goal of campaign — developed by a Sioux Falls ad agency — is to remind the more than 200,000 people who applied to be prospective astronauts on the first trips to Mars that the planet is a cold, barren wasteland bereft of oxygen located 141 million miles from Earth. South Dakota, on the other hand, is a lot closer, and has plenty of breathable air.
"We think Mars has what South Dakota wants — thousands of people lining up to live there," Pat Costello, commissioner of the Governor's Office of Economic Development, told CNN Money. "So we decided to have a little fun with it."
The 30-second ad — entitled "You can live in South Dakota" — touts the state as "progressive, productive and abundant in oxygen."
According to the Argus Leader, the idea for the spot was born out of focus groups conducted in Illinois, Iowa, and Minnesota, where participants were asked what would be appealing about living in South Dakota.
"If you're someone that's really introverted, it might not be that bad," one participant in Minneapolis responded. "You might like the lifestyle of reading books and collecting stamps."
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Dakota has an unemployment rate of 3.5 percent — one of the lowest in the country.
"One of our mantras for business is no state income tax," Costello told the paper. "That didn't resonate with individuals. Individuals viewed that as maybe the state doesn't have good education or fire protection, or crime might be high or the park system [is] not adequate. That was almost a quality-of-life deterrent."
Enter ... Mars.
"We think the Mars thing is right now," Costello said. "Once this runs its course, we'll hitch our message to the next wagon."