Copyranter: Here comes drone advertising

Mark Duffy has written the Copyranter blog for 10 years and is a freelancing copywriter with 20-plus years of experience. His hockey wrist shot is better than yours. Follow him on Twitter.

Soon, Facebook drones will be delivering the Internet (and Facebook) to the remotest of regions. And soon (probably by late 2016), Amazon drones will be delivering fruit infusers and other critical items right to your door. And soon after that, brand drones will be delivering ad messages right to your stupefied faces, everywhere, all the time.

It’s already begun outside the US: hovering headless mannequin drones tried to sell men’s suits outside São Paulo office buildings; stork drones delivered baby products to moms on Rio beaches; and pink cupid drones awkwardly dropped roses between Italian strangers on Valentine’s Day.

Drone-vertising! You will be advertised to whether you want it or not.

It’s free media (for now), it can be hyper-targeted (Is that the right buzzword, marketing gurus?), and of course it’s super-mobile. And imagine the earned media opportunities! Homemade videos of your drone-vertising would flood YouTube, especially if it smashed someone’s nose or caused a massive highway pile-up.

Not a scene from 'Black Mirror'
Not a scene from ‘Black Mirror’

Last November, Brazilian men’s store Camisaria Colombo deployed several headless dronequins (concept by Publicis São Paulo) to hawk Black Friday deals to amused (as in, surprisingly not terrified) office workers. What flattering looks! Somebody should have grabbed a pole and attempted to steal that spiffy black suit.

'It's twins! Kidding.'
‘It’s twins! Kidding.’

In January, stork-drones dive-bombed mothers and mothers-to-be around Rio de Janeiro and dropped diapers filled with Dove baby products. Kind of lame. But this stunt has great potential for future delivery of actual newborns — as cover to delay the “sex talk” with older children. Technological improvements would need to be implemented, though, to limit the instances of infants falling to their deaths. Idea created by WPP agency

Does it shoot love lasers, though?

Then in February, on Valentine’s Day, The Flower Council of Holland unleashed the creepiest example drone-vertising yet on Verona, Italy (setting of Romeo and Juliet): a stalking, wolf-whistling pink drone (#cupidrone) that dropped roses between couples but also between strangers in an attempt to force them into unwanted kisses/sex.

Next Valentine’s Day, look for an armada of phallic-shaped Durex brand drones dropping condoms between couples while their emotionally dead computer voices drone:  “SEX…SEX…SEX” over and over again.

But think of the future opportunities! Larger drones (like the Drone Boss 3000) could hover billboards over major highways. McDonald’s could advertise the McMuffin to morning commuters, and then the drones could move to other side of the highway, flip around the board and shove a big juicy Quarter-Pounder into the faces of the same commuters on the way home.

Competing airline drones could pump deals while whizzing by your heads inside airports; beer brands could drone-vertise (complete with delivery) at indoor and outdoor sporting events; stripper clubs and detox spas could launch campaigns up high in the corridors of the Wall Street financial district. No more biplanes trailing unreadable banners at beaches — hovering drones will be blocking your ocean views with banners for hours. And so on.

Yes, drone-vertising will be very invasive and potentially quite dangerous. But at least it’s more ethical fly-vertising.

'Help me!'
‘Help me!’


Photo illustration by Matthew Fraher