Rethinking Planet Mars 26.04.17

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Technology is bringing us ever closer to Mars, but its popular image has barely changed over the past 100 years. As Donald Trump orders Nasa to speed up its efforts to send astronauts to the red planet, Düsseldorf studio Kitto Katsu takes aim at the little green men

Stereotypes seem to be a necessary evil. They are a useful technique to help us sift through and categorise information more quickly and thus make sense of the ever-more complex world around us – when you hear a bear coming, you better be frightened, no questions asked. In many cases though, stereotypes and prejudices are unfounded, leading people to discriminate and jump to the wrong conclusion.

When thinking about the planet Mars, all kinds of stereotypes come to mind – we found ourselves thinking about the ancient god of war, dust storms, little green men, the face of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s opponent exploding in the deadly Mars atmosphere and Matt Damon growing potatoes.

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The campaign makes provocative use of Mars-related stereotypes

For some reason Mars, with its dramatic red colour, has always been the planet in our solar system that has particularly sparked people’s imagination. We have read and seen countless stories surrounding its hypothetical inhabitants, most of them ugly-looking, hostile creatures out to invade earth and destroy us all – most famously the long-legged machines in HG Wells’s War of the Worlds. Then there were the friendly Martians – little green men with their antennae, the stereotypical portrayal of extraterrestrial life even today.

After the first actual space probes landed on Mars, stories shifted from alien invasions to a more scientific view of the planet. But thinking about all of those films of recent years, from Total Recall to Ghosts of Mars, the image of the red planet didn’t necessarily get any better.

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The logo enforces the idea of Mars as a blank canvas

In our Rethink project, it was our goal to give Mars a clean slate, to ask people to discard all their preconceived ideas and associations with the planet (aliens, chocolate bars, space suits ... ) and instead to ‘find it out for themselves’. With our bold and colourful campaign, we play with cliché and stereotypes to provoke and attract attention, while juxtaposing them with a key visual that is literally Mars as a blank canvas that wants to be filled with new images and ideas.


Words and images

Kitto Katsu


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