In between spots showing teary moms and persevering athletes, some viewers of NBC's Sports Network Olympics coverage last week saw a commercial for an underground shelter designed to protect from an end-of-the-world catastrophe.
Yes, you read that right.
Made by Omni Underground Bunkers, a Delaware-based company that specializes in bunker shelters, the spot resembles a generic infomercial type of ad you're likely to see during some bad wee-hours TV. It features a concerned citizen warning us about natural disasters and terrorist attacks sure to wreak havoc in our lives. With images of disaster-stricken towns, crying children and burning buildings, it proclaims this is all inevitable, with assertions like "This is the future. This is real."
Perhaps most odd is that the ad seems to view the ones who die during the next major event to be the lucky ones.
"If you and your family are unlucky enough to survive," the pitchman intones, then you'll need one solution survive the chaos: the company's steel self-contained bunkers that give you access to food, water, electricity and all the things needed to keep you and your family safe, starting at just $14,995.
It wasn't clear if the 30-second commercial aired locally or nationally. Michael Angel, who according to the company website is the owner of the company, told Ad Age last week that "We run it everywhere, we're all around the country," though he wouldn't be specific.
Just like any other doomsday prepper, the company is pretty darn serious about this stuff. Its site features plenty of references related to the possibility of such calamities, like last year's story about the sniper that took out 17 transformers at a California power station; a National Geographic documentary on what it'd be like if the country was under a cyber-attack; articles that talk about overcoming normalcy bias; and a FAQ page listing every possible thing you need to know about the post-apocalypse world.
But what makes this all the more thought-provoking is the reality of today's booming doomsday business. It seems millions of Americans are preparing for Armageddon Day, investing in stylish shelters, stocking up on non-perishable food, and purchasing weapons and ammo. National Geographic Channel not only runs reality show "Doomsday Preppers," but a web spinoff called "Selling Survival," which included a segment headlined "The Competitive Bunker Business." According to an article by Bloomberg Businessweek last year, there's even a dating site dedicated to the prepper movement called "Survivalist Singles," whose founder believes companionship is just as necessary to survive. It's currently still up and running, boasting over 6,600 members.
In light of its gaining popularity, perhaps it's just a matter of time before we start seeing more of these apocalyptic ads in mainstream media.