Uber Takes Ad Campaign to the Skies With Dronevertising

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As if Uber weren’t dominating the highway roads enough already, now it is taking over the skies, too. Recent reports detail how the transportation company has employed a small fleet of drones to advertise its carpooling service, UberPOOL, in heavy-traffic areas of Mexico City.

The “dronevertising” campaign uses small banner ads, attached to drones that hover before vehicle drivers who are stuck in deadlock traffic — a frequent occurrence in Mexico City, which is home to more than 8.8 million people and whose economy is on a rapid incline. Mexican exports from local factories have grown 13% since 2012.

That population density and heavy industry has produced a notorious smog and air pollution problem in the city, which Uber’s ads were quick to remind people riding solo along the highway.

“Driving by yourself? This is why you can never see the volcanoes,” one drone sign read in Spanish.

Uber isn’t the first company to use aerial advertising to capture the eyes of an attentive audience — think airplane banners or blimp campaigns — and it’s not the first to try it with drones, either. There are dronevertising-focused companies in Philadelphia and Santa Monica, and some politicians have even used drones on the campaign trail.

However, the very close-range ads used in Uber’s latest stunt may not be feasible — or legal — in other parts of the world.

“I think particularly flying a drone near a roadway, especially a busy roadway, you run the risk not only of losing control of the drone and the drone hitting a vehicle, but you also might be distracting drivers,” said Lee Mauro, an aviation law attorney in Victoria, British Columbia. “That’s obviously going to be a concern for everybody.”

While it’s likely we’ll see more drone advertising in the future, Mauro said, most places still require that you obtain a proper seal of approval before flying drones for commercial purposes.

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