In 2006, KFC launched a rebranding campaign, complete with a 65,000-foot-wide logo in the Mojave desert. Meant to be seen “from space,” it grabbed headlines and sparked concerns from environmentalists and modesty enthusiasts alike about a coming tide of “geobranding,” with companies etching their logos and billboards into the earth to complement newly common satellite mapping.
But the KFC logo was quickly removed in 2007, and nary a copycat has since followed.
Perhaps they all should have taken a note from Coca-Cola, which has had an equally obscure logo-for-satellites in the Chilean desert for almost 30 years. It still exists, and as if from a marketer’s nightmare, barely anyone knows about it.
Created to commemorate Coke’s 100th anniversary, the logo is a simple one – that classic Coca-Cola script with a caption beneath it that originally read “100 años” - 100 years. This has been updated to “125 años” to accurately reflect the passage of time since the logo was built. The geo-sign is constructed out of 70,000 empty Coke bottles, bringing a whole “meta” angle to the dubious symbolism of branding the earth with consumer products.
Even so, one can’t help but be impressed that Coke thought of this idea long before satellite images were commonplace, and certainly before they were readily accessible to the public at large. Perhaps they were going after the notoriously hard-to-crack airline pilots demographic, or maybe they did imagine a day in the future when anyone could gaze down upon the surface of the earth via satellite, from the comfort of their own home.
The latter would explain the extraordinary longevity of this publicity stunt; but either way, it’s nice to look back (or down) on it now and see a quaint piece of marketing history, its longstanding nature making it an intriguing relic to be examined rather than a gaudy ploy to be dismissed. And if that was in fact their plan all along, then bravo, Coca-Cola. Bravo.
Know Before You Go
Travel along Route 5, heading south from the city of Arica. When you see the river on the left-hand side of the road, the logo can be found on the hillside just beyond it.