The drone industry could use a boost in the public eye. A 2014 Associated Press poll found that only 21 percent of Americans favor the commercial use of drones. Even as drones are used for humanitarian causes, to battle poachers and make farms more efficient, a stigma remains.
Some in the drone world have suggested abandoning the name drone, saying it conjures up negative imagery of military strikes.
Now leading drone companies appear to be pursuing another tactic — releasing impressive videos of their products, a long-existing strategy of the powerful brand Apple.
Apple doesn’t brag about the technical specifications of its products in its videos. It doesn’t seem interested in the tech geek who wants to talk about how many gigabytes of RAM his new gadget has. The company thinks broader, about life and happiness. Its ads focus on the emotions its products generate in those who use them. You can count lots of smiles in Apple’s ads, but few references to actual details about its products.
With smart cuts, montages of interesting examples of the products in action, lively music and sometimes poetry, the ads always stand out.
Leaders in the emerging drone economy seem to have noticed, and they’re borrowing Apple’s tricks. Chinese drone maker DJI released its latest version of the popular Phantom Wednesday, and produced a series of a related videos about the joy of using drones.
One of DJI’s videos shows the Phantom being used to inspect a solar panel farm. There’s solemn yet energetic instrumental music, and a narrator reading a Walt Whitman poem, “When I heard the learn’d astronomer.” It’s reminiscent of Apple’s 2014 ad for the iPad Air, which included lines from Whitman’s “Oh Me! O Life!”
Whitman isn’t the only poet DJI is tapping to help it connect with potential drone buyers. A video of a drone flying over a volcano includes Robert Frost’s, “Fire and Ice.” Others clips include Alfred Lord Tennyson’s “Locksley Hall,” and Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ode to the West Wind.”
Apple has long had a unique take on advertising, dating to its infancy. Apple’s much-acclaimed 1984 advertisement announced the Macintosh computer and its launch date. On Tuesday drone maker 3D Robotics released a video, the “dawn of the aerial age.” It’s reminiscent, offering a brief mention of a new product’s release date and hyping up a transformative era in a memorable way.
Now we’ll see if the marketing push can pay off.