Late last week 500 drones were dispatched into the air above New York City, lighting up the Manhattan skyline on Thursday night so the world could see...a Candy Crush advertisement.
The stunt was staged for the game’s 10th anniversary, and saw the drones deployed to create a series of images, hashtags and slogans from the game, ranging from a depiction of Candy Crush’s ‘PLAY’ button to just a huge, aerial version of the game’s logo, floating ominously over downtown like a bonus level from Space Invaders. Here’s some company footage of the event, showing dozens of people smiling and applauding at proceedings:
As Business Insider report, though, the demonstration was not without its critics. They interviewed a number of specialists, like researcher Fabio Falchi, who said “These sort of things should be stopped by laws if the reason is lacking, as it seems, before it is too late. Now, for the advantage of a corporation, the real stars will be replaced by these ultra-bright light of drones.”
Astronomers also pointed out that, while a single event like this wasn’t a huge scientific concern, were they to become regular occurrences—which they’re fast becoming in some places around the world—then they’ll quickly become a huge source of light pollution, something that doesn’t just rob humans of a view of the stars (and our sleep), but also has serious ramifications for animal life, because it can interrupt bird migration and affect insect populations.
I get their concerns, and I agree on scientific grounds they’re serious ones, but also: just fuck this in general! We are crushed underfoot by ads every second of every day, whether we’re browsing our favourite video game website (sorry!), watching TV or just walking to the bus stop. The night sky must have been one of the last places on Earth we could ever look to without being sold something, so to see this trend gathering pace (the NBA did something similar in June, and companies specialising in this are getting more and more work) sucks!
UPDATE: While the drones were best viewed from lower Manhattan, in a legal technicality they were actually launched from New Jersey because New York city itself has strict laws against their use. And as this Gothamist story reports, Manhattan Sen. Brad Hoylman joined the voices speaking out against it last week when he said “I think it’s outrageous to be spoiling our city’s skyline for private profit. It’s offensive to New Yorkers, to our local laws, to public safety, and to wildlife.”