Why 2021 has been the year of the UFO-inspired creative

Why 2021 has been the year of the UFO-inspired creative

3-headed vultures, birds made of grass, humans sweating milk and fleas the size of elephants.

No, this isn’t the synopsis of the upcoming I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here. These are among the first known references to ‘alien’ life found in Lucian’s satirical novel “A True Story”, 200AD.

Despite essentially referring to the concept of lactation as out of this world, Lucian’s imaginings of, and fascination with, extra-terrestrial life are as relevant as ever. And, in 2021, our interest was truly piqued.

Why now?

Perhaps the seed was planted in 2020 with the Monolith mysteries, or more legitimately, the anticipation of the Pentagon UFO Report (released June 2021).

The Report saw the declassification of hundreds of government files, expected to demystify numerous unexplained sightings and above all, answer the all important question: do aliens exist?

It was a resounding ‘maybe’.

So, not the green bombshell we were hoping for but it did trigger an onslaught of UFO inspired creative.

Aliens invading culture: 5 big campaigns

Fortnite: Invasion

In gaming (an industry generally ahead of the times and indeed the Report) Fortnite launched their newest season titled Invasion.

The theme was, potentially a nod to Gen Z’s likeness to a new generation of lifeforms entering our universe, but more likely just a cool place to fight aliens.

Oreo: The Offering

Ahead of US intelligence declassifying its UFO secrets, Oreo made ‘offering’ to aliens with the tagline "Bringing all lifeforms together."

Beavertown: A Friendly Invasion

Beavertown Brewery (disclaimer: client) were into aliens before they were cool (again) with UFOs and out of this world worlds a fundamental part of its creative direction.

But even Beavertown went extra on the theme this year with its first ever ad campaign: 'We come in Peace, Pints and Cans' crash landing into Shoreditch, and non-traditional OOH spaces while also hosting a series of #friendlyinvasions.

Netflix - The World is on Netflix

A month after the UFO report, Netflix launched an alien themed ad and supporting PR activation for their new campaign ‘The World is on Netflix’ targeting a non-traditional audience set. 

Netflix transmitted ‘the world’s stories’ into the universe by translating some of its hero content into ‘alien languages’ and broadcasting it from Area 51 to the Kepler-160 system; home to potential earth-like planets.

John Lewis: Unexpected Guest

And to round up the year, the Big-Biggie of awaited campaigns, John Lewis.

With the hashtag #UnexpectedGuest at Christmas we’d usually be looking at a rogue aunt or, at best, a sibling who’s gone travelling but ran out of money and came back early to ‘surprise mum’.

But of course, this year’s theme is…aliens. 

Because believing in Santa is so passé.

So what’s going on?

With the above examples, (and many others from elsewhere in the world) surely it was more than the Pentagon Report creating this common creative ground?

It’s likely a culmination of a multitude of widely shared behaviours and experiences:

  1. Global lockdown: We ran out of inspiration on Earth as our worlds became smaller—we looked out of this world, to the skies for inspiration and craved escapism. So we made it come to us.

  2. A fundamental fear for our planet: A desperation for more to life than Earth? Do we need a Plan(et) B if we’re headed for irreparable climate change? And then there’s the real I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here; except swap B-list celebrities for billionaires and swap Wales for planet Earth. We’re back in the race for space rather than the race to save our planet.

  3. And then there’s (the) Metaverse: Anywhere but reality.

Conclusion

We want to believe in something. 

Ufology is more than a study—it’s a religion; with more of the population believing in aliens than in God. (Not that these two things are mutually exclusive.)

And, after a year of dark times amongst mankind, we turned to aliens to give us hope.

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