South Dakota sets the bar low with a new ad campaign that basically says, "Hey, at least we're not Mars."
Aimed at both tourists and potential long-term residents, the campaign—developed by Sioux Falls ad agency Lawrence & Schiller—reminds us that Mars is a barren wasteland with no water or oxygen, while South Dakota is, well, not that. Also, there are jobs. That is quite literally the tone they are using to sell people on life in South Dakota.
However cavalier their attitude may be, the campaign is based on research into the general perception of South Dakota, which itself can be summarized as a "barren wasteland." One response even compared life there to "living in a mental asylum." Yet the state has an unemployment percentage well below the national average and is seeing growth in a couple of different industries—plus it has none of North Dakota's oil-shale boomtowns driving up crime and other unpleasantness.
Seeing that the more serious tone of past campaigns hadn't really changed anyone's perceptions (including the one touting the state's lack of income tax), Lawrence & Schiller decided to gamble on a looser tone that plays on a currently trending news item.
And why not? Even if it doesn't work, it's still less dumb than volunteering for a doomed Mars flight that sounds like a scam and probably won't even happen.