Some 500 Sync’d Drones Take Over NYC Skyline To Market Candy Crush; Residents Unimpressed
November 7, 2022 by Dave Haynes
Residents in big cities have raised objections to things like river and ocean barges with LED boards on them, and big digital boards on roadways, so I suspect synchronized drone arrays in the sky used specifically for product marketing are not going to be greeted warmly if they start appearing regularly.
The technical feat of coordinating the flights and lighting of dozens or 100s of drones is technically impressive as hell, but much of what’s been seen in the west (can’t speak for China) has been limited to short-term special events, like opening ceremonies or product launches at big trade shows.
But recently, the skies over New York City were filled with some 500 LED light-equipped drones to run a product promotion for the online game Candy Crush, with the drones orchestrated to form a series of shapes that included a logo and call to action.
Crusty New Yorkers were not impressed (surprise!) with an effort to change the skyline, albeit just briefly. Drones are not allowed in the city’s five boroughs but the company executing the drone show worked around that by launching and running the show from the other side of the Hudson River in New Jersey. It got all the necessary permits and had to also work with the FAA, which regulates civil aviation in the U.S.
The sky over New York tonight!
A feat by our team – it’s one thing to get some drones, but another to coordinate with the FAA and the many other local and national regulators and get all the permits and follow all the protocols and look out for wildlife and the environment and pic.twitter.com/PbkcZvU2dr
— Lulu Cheng Meservey (@lulumeservey) November 4, 2022
The show was executed by a company called Pixis, based in the Washington, DC area. It had previously done work for the NBA, which was also launched from New Jersey, as well as efforts in cities like Nashville.
The company says it offers “the ultimate in aerial marketing and entertainment. Tight formations offering incredible depth, richness, and detail. 3D shows with a 360-degree rotation platform delivering dynamic visuals with fluid, interactive transitions. A brand-defining experience providing a true “wow” factor. Designed for large-scale venues and mass audiences, this is innovative engagement at its highest level.”
I don’t think I would roll this in as a variation on digital signage technology, but it certainly competes for mindshare and money with digital OOH media companies, as well as manufacturers of semi-transparent LED display technology who would happily sell to commercial building owners who want to monetize their facades through advertising (if they can get zoning OKs).
Seeing these rise in the sky probably involves a mental journey for observers that starts with surprise and fascination and migrates to thoughts of how they can be knocked down. Unlike big LEDs clad to the sides of buildings and on all night, though, these shows only last for a matter of minutes. However, you just know there are engineers working on ways to extend flight/operating times. However, perhaps the biggest barrier to these things being more important is flight paths and the impacts on migratory birds.
If I had a very expensive view apartment in Manhattan, I would not be happy looking out and seeing Candy Crush ads.