Staff Reporters
Jan 28, 2015

Drones: Gimmick or real marketing potential?

First Coca-Cola dropped cans from the sky, and now realtors are using drones to market homes. But just how far can it go as a marketing tool?

Drones: Gimmick or real marketing potential?


  • Faris Yakob, Co-founder, Genius Steals (left)
  • Bob Chua, CEO, Pulse Group (right)

Drones have been buzzing into marketing. Just a fad or here to stay? Why?

  • Yakob: Nothing is ever here to stay. Novelty hacks the attention system, which is why advertising desperately seeks out new things, and loves being first.
  • Chua: I have yet to see any feasible marketing ideas using drones that have been successfully monetised.

Should more brands be exploring drones as a marketing tool?

  • Yakob: If you mean, what can we do with drones, then probably not. If you mean understanding that drones exist, and adding them to the palette from which we create ideas, then sure.
  • Chua: Perhaps. However, one has to question its reach, target audience and functionality. Personally, I would find it extremely hard to use drones as a sustainable marketing tool or medium.

Which types of brands or companies can benefit most from the use of drones?

  • Yakob: Drones are great at filming certain kinds of things like extreme sports, so Red Bull is an obvious user. Nixie, a wrist-mounted drone that literally flies off your wrist, films you and then returns, won US$500,000 from Intel. That should be interesting.
  • Chua: Well, the ones currently using drones successfully are the specialists in aerial photography. I believe it’s still too early to use the technology as a mainstream marketing enabler at this point.

What are the biggest opportunities with drones?

  • Yakob: Saving loads of money on helicopters for aerial shots.
  • Chua: As battery life, regulations, and technology improves, we may see more applications appear, and some related to the marketing industry.

What are the biggest challenges?

  • Yakob: I got mine stuck in a tree on my first day. It was a really fun 15 minutes, though.
  • Chua: The technology itself, regulations, and the weather.

What’s the best example you’ve seen of drones being used in marketing?

  • Yakob: When Amazon hacked the media by pretending to be using drones as a delivery system.  
  • Chua: One interesting application is currently being tested in the Netherlands. Drones are being equipped with defibrillators, so they can be deployed to heart-attack sufferers within minutes. Again, more a functional use than a marketing gimmick.


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