Orbital View: Chicken Big

Editor’s Note: This article previously appeared in a different format as part of The Atlantic’s Notes section, retired in 2021.

Move over, Chicken Littlethis has to be one of the most bizarre satellite images I’ve ever seen:

A photo posted by DigitalGlobe (@digitalglobe) on

Yes, that’s the KFC logo. And no, it’s not Photoshopped. Apparently the whole thing was part of an advertising campaign on behalf of the fast food chain. Condé Nast Traveller reported in 2014:

A team of nearly fifty designers, scientists, and craftspeople spent three months putting Sanders’s face onto the desert of Rachel, Nevada, a tiny town in the desert near Area 51. [...] The giant Colonel Sanders image was assembled like a jigsaw puzzle out of 65,000 tiles, individually painted red, black, white, or beige. The finished “Face from Space” measured 87,500 square feet in area, a bigger footprint than St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The Colonel’s face was so big that it could hold all four of those other great Americans carved onto Mount Rushmore. In fact, it was the biggest logo in the history of advertising.

Despite being seemingly out-of-this-world, the ad wasn’t the first of its kind. From NPR:

KFC claims in a press release that their giant portrait of Colonel Sanders, built in 2006, is “the world's first brand visible from outer space.” But, as Alex and James Turnbull of the blog Google Sightseeing point out, the oldest “astrovertisement” is actually a Readymix logo that was carved into the Australian desert in 1965.

Planet Earth is a very weird place to live.

(See all Orbital Views here)