The group intends to storm the top-secret government facility with one simple mission: “Let’s see them aliens.”
For non-US based readers, Area 51 is a restricted government base in Nevada that is believed to be where the government conducts tests on aliens, UFOs, and other extraterrestrial secrets.
It’s well-known that the United States permits the use of deadly force for those who attempt to access the facility unauthorized. The Facebook group operates on the idea that if enough people try to storm it at once, a few are bound to get in.
Of course, this was largely started as a joke, and spawned many memes in the process.
It’s unlikely the nearly 2 million people signed up are actually planning to arrive in Nevada on September 20th, but hotels near Area 51’s facility say they are getting an increased demand for bookings that the small rural area is “not equipped to handle.”
The line between joke and reality is so blurred for this event, that brands decided to get in on the fun.
Below are five brands that have joined the mission of “seeing them aliens”.
Fast food restaurant Arby’s announced that those who do show up to the Area 51 raid on September 20th will be well-fed.
The company announced plans to unofficially cater the event, bringing a food truck with a top-secret menu to Nevada the day of the planned raid.
Arby’s Chief Marketing Officer even provided an official statement on Arby’s plans to cater the raid for human attendees and any aliens that make it out, stating:
“We can’t confirm if there are aliens at Area 51. But, if they do show up, they deserve the best meats on Earth. If not, Arby’s will still be there serving the planet’s best meats to everyone else attending this historic event.”
2. Bud Light
Bud Light also plans to be present the day of the Area 51 raid.
The beer brand debuted an Area 51-themed special edition beer label, which they’ll release for sale if their tweet gets over 51,000 retweets. (Currently at 61k, so find one at your local store soon?)
However, unlike Bud Light and Arby’s, Kool-Aid is not suggesting that the Kool-Aid man will be present on September 20th to help attendees break Area 51’s walls down. (I can’t believe that’s a real sentence I just wrote.)
All in all, meme marketing helps brands stay relevant with their audience in a new way, almost saying that they’re in on the joke with us.
And, since the Area 51 meme has gotten a tad out of control, brands like Arby’s and Bud Light matched the ridiculousness. Both brands have certainly gotten a lot of press for their efforts, so you could say that the risk has paid off.
However, in some cases, it can backfire. The “Storm Area 51” event is unprecedented in meme culture — not only in its pure absurdity, but its potential to do real harm.
Honestly, I searched the internet for another instance where brands integrated themselves with meme culture too closely, and I couldn’t find an example that matched this level. While it is true that Arby’s and Bud Light have clearly gotten attention, it begs the question of how far are the brands willing to take the joke.
Will they actually show up in Nevada on September 20th? Will they be held responsible for any civilians who do attempt to storm Area 51?
I assume that as we get closer and closer to September, the meme will begin to die out and we’ll become fixated on the next chapter of internet ridiculousness, and I assume these brands think the same — but it’s a risky gamble to take.