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Dronevertising: The future of ads or an idea in need of grounding?

One of the biggest issues faced by anyone with a great idea is how to get people aware of it. And with marketing looking to gain more cut-through and create genuine buzz, they’ve now combined the idea of drones and advertising to create flying billboards.

Dronevertising is the brainchild of Russian ad agency Hungry Boys. Their first campaign was for Asian restaurant chain Wokker, putting an ad for the chain on a series of drones, then hovering the flying billboards in the windows of high-rise office buildings at lunchtime.

The result? A 40 per cent increase in Wokker’s sales and, according to Hungry Boys, the creation of “a buzz” around Wokker “in all European advertising media”.

While a 40 per cent rise in sales is phenomenal, you have to question the sustainability of dronevertising. This was one of the world’s first campaigns, so it was inevitably going to make a splash, for both the ad agency and the company which paid for the campaign.

But for argument’s sake, let’s say dronevertising takes off and ten years from now the skies are full of drones selling us take-away food and every other bloody thing ads flog. Do you think drones will still be rising sales by 40 per cent? Or will we just regard them as one more annoying way we’re being told to buy things.

Of course, there’s no harm in striking while the iron’s hot. In 1931 skywriting was a fledgling form of advertising when a soft drink company on the verge of collapse hired a plane to fly over New York City and write the following message in the sky:

“Drink Pepsi-Cola.”

To this day Pepsi continue to use skywriters to advertise their beverage, but the money they spend on skywriters as a percentage of their total advertising revenue is a bubble in a two-litre bottle. The majority of their advertising budget is spent on television, print and radio advertising. Furthermore, how many pilots out there are making their living as skywriters?

Just as Pepsi were able to leverage a gimmick form of advertising into international success, there’s surely a brand or company which will become synonymous with dronevertising and will become successful on the back of this new form of ad. But while the gimmick will put them on the front page of papers, and see a spike in sales, what will drive sustainable growth will be standard mass-communication advertising.

There will be money made from drone advertising. But the world’s ad agencies aren’t about to go out and buy drone fleets and pay to train or employ adequately trained operators.

Drones are coming. Some drones will advertise. But, just as skywriting was almost a century ago, dronevertising will be little more than pie in the sky.

About the author

Joe was Junior Vice-President at Compu-Global-Hyper-Mega-Net until it was bought out by Bill Gates. He now subedits for Conversant Media and considers it a step up.

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