Advertisers Looking to Capitalize on Growing Popularity of Drone Light Shows

Drone light shows have become an increasingly popular alternative to traditional fireworks displays.  And with huge global audiences increasingly captivated by these often dazzling and brilliant aerial events, it’s only natural that marketers now want to turn drone light shows into major advertising venues.

Lucky Charms – the cereal company – and the National Basketball Association (NBA) are two of the biggest corporate entities that have signed on to “aerial branded light displays,” as the new marketing concept has become known.  The term was first coined by Pixis Drones, the company that has assisted the NBA and a growing number of other corporate giants to produce light shows that promote their brand to live event audiences that include not only those watching the event but millions more watching it on television or online.

We have an opportunity to…tell a story in a medium that has not been yet defined.  There’s a huge ceiling for this, and it can only go higher and brighter,” says Pixis Drones founder Brad Nierenberg.

One especially noteworthy example of the extraordinary reach of drone advertising is the aerial branding display Pixis did for the launch of Paris Hilton’s company 11:11.  The launch was witnessed by hundreds of thousands in person but a video of the event with the display featured prominently has already been viewed 3 million times on Instagram.

In fact, several other Pixis aerial displays have far outpaced the one the company produced for 11:11.  For example, a Pixis display for Candy Crush has been viewed a whopping 1.8 billion times, and has led to 300 media placements, a company record.

And that display was produced and staged in the skies over Manhattan – which still maintains a ban on drone flying.  It was an advertising coup – and a lucrative one at that.

Candy Crush officials say the scope of live viewing is far wider than many people imagine.  While their drone show – involving 500 drones equipped with LED lighting – took off from the Santa Monica pier, outside Los Angeles, it was also visible to residents in nearby cities.

“I think it could be seen as far south as Long Beach and as far up the coast to Malibu, and so for the whole west side of Los Angeles, [we] created basically a viral moment in the sky,” company marketing director Krystal Hauserman said. “No social media platform required.”

Pixis and other niche companies that are exploring the drone advertising niche caution that federal and local regulations need to be followed.  Pixis had to obtain a special waiver from the Federal Aviation Administration in order to launch the massive Candy Crush event.  The company also works closely with local police and firefighting departments on the logistics and to secure compliance with local safety protocols.

And what about New York’s long-standing ban on drone flying, some outraged critics of the drone show asked?   In fact, Pixis launched all 500 of the show’s drones from neighboring New Jersey, just across the Hudson River.  With drone lights visible from so far away, and the FAA controlling all national airspace, the sky itself may be the only real limit to aerial drone advertising, industry observers say.

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