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A swarm of 500 drones will plague New York City with advertising tomorrow


New Yorkers are used to ads dotting the landscape, but now they can’t even look to the skies for refuge. As Gothamist reportsmobile developer King and show organizer Pixis are flying a swarm of at least 500 LED-equipped drones over New York City’s skyline on November 3rd to advertise Candy Crush. They’ll take off from and remain in New Jersey for the 10-minute presentation, but you’ll spot them if you’re within a one-mile radius of Battery Park.

This isn’t the first drone light show aimed at NYC. In June, Pixis orchestrated a swarm that promoted the NBA draft by flying over the Hudson River. Company general manager Jeff Kaplan characterizes the Candy Crush promo as the “next wave,” however, and it’s safe to say this will be hard to avoid if you’re in the area. The largest drone show to date came from Hyundai’s Genesis brand, which flew 3,281 drones over Shanghai in March 2021.

Pixis is jumping over multiple legal hurdles to make the campaign happen. New York City’s Aviation Law bans drone flights altogether, so any aerial sales pitches have to remain within New Jersey’s borders. The company also had to obtain both a Federal Aviation Administration waiver (to fly in federal airspace) and a special permit from New Jersey (to operate from Liberty State Park).

The planned flight is already angering critics. New York State Senator Brad Hoylman, for instance, says it’s “outrageous” to fill the sky with drones and is considering legislation to ban such ads. New York City’s Audubon is also concerned that drones might interfere with bird flight patterns. There is a history of crackdowns on this kind of behavior — both the state and city kicked out a billboard-carrying boat in 2019.

Unless that happens, though, the drones will become harder to escape. A future robotic flyer will be visible within 3 miles, potentially covering a large swath of Manhattan and even significant parts of western Brooklyn. Like it or not, these tech-driven marketing spiels may soon be difficult for NYC residents to escape.

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