Mars Cannot Compete With South Dakota

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Mars cannot compete with South Dakota. At least that is what a new ad campaign from the South Dakota Governor’s Office of Economic Development would like potential new residents to believe. The underpopulated state is trying to recruit new citizens by highlighting the benefits of living there as opposed to relocating to the Red Planet. The initiative has been mentioned on CNN, MSNBC, The Today Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon. The campaign has gone viral, and one of its ads has received over 150,000 views on YouTube.

The campaign’s website details the many positive rankings South Dakota has achieved in recent years. These include being declared the state with the shortest commute times and the fourth-best job market nationally, as well as being the third-ranked state in terms of overall happiness and well-being. These high rankings need to be highlighted based on non-residents’ ideas about South Dakota, which will need a big dose of good publicity if it expects to attract new citizens.

According to several focus groups conducted in various places among people between 21 and 45 years of age, many non-residents are simply not aware of what the state has to offer. One person in Minneapolis said that it would be really easy to become a hermit if you lived in South Dakota. Another person said they assumed there is not much to do for fun there. Participants also added that the state was a really good choice for introverts because you can spend a lot of time doing things like reading books and collecting stamps.

In terms of employment, people viewed South Dakota as a state with more “seasonal” opportunities as opposed to year-long consistent work. Most of the young workers surveyed were of the opinion that South Dakota mainly employed people in the agriculture or tourism industries. A few people did not know that there were any actual cities in the state.

MarsOne of the ways South Dakota has typically attracted new businesses is by not having a state tax. However, the focus groups found that this was not an incentive for individuals to relocate there. Due to the state’s current tax policy, people felt that the school system might not be adequate, public safety might be underfunded, and parks may not be adequately maintained or numerous enough.

In an effort to attract the workforce the state needs, the government plans to spend $3 million over three years. Encouraging young people to relocate by showing them ways Mars cannot compete with South Dakota is simply the first in a series of messages that will be created, using trending topics to move the state more into the public eye.

As of May 1, 2015, the campaign appears to be working. Its website has had 15,000 unique visitors. The fact that over 60 percent of the sessions originated from mobile phones is also encouraging to those that had the original idea for the Mars ads since younger people, the targeted demographic, are more likely to connect to the web via their phone than members of older generations.

Another way it seems Mars cannot compete with South Dakota is that anyone who moves there, instead of to the Red Planet, is still able to visit anyone on Earth whenever they want and attend events that they feel are important. This is apparent when comparing the 4,300 applications submitted for Mars One to the over 200,000 applications the nonprofit originally claimed to receive.

By Martina Robinson

Edited by Jennifer Pfalz

Argus Leader: Schwan: S.D. Fights ‘Barren Wasteland’ Perception
Official Mars Campaign Website:
Argus Leader: State’s ‘Mars’ Campaign Drawing Job-Seekers
Matter: Mars One Reveals True Number of Applicants

Featured Image Courtesy of NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center’s Flickr Page –  Creative Commons License
Inline Image Courtesy of Wendy’s Flickr Page – Creative Commons License