Will Drones Fundamentally Change Advertising?

CANNES, FRANCE -- While many say drones are just the latest gimmick to awe and impress the ad industry,  a group of Lions presenters-- Elisha Greenwell, creative strategy director, Mofilm, John Ratcliffe, CEO, Mofilm South Africa and Ferdinand Wolf, manager, Studios, Europe, DJI--feel these devices are fundamentally changing the way advertising is created. 

They came together during the International Festival of Creativity here to discuss how drones and technology are revolutionizing the advertising industry.  

"Drones enable us to get perspective that wasn't possible to do before," says Wolf. For instance, Mofilm worked with Emirates on an 18-part series that gathered footage of gorgeous landscapes that previously would have required helicopters or expensive equipment. Drones, however, fill the gap between ground and attached cameras. "It's boosting the creativity of people with angles and [views] that we were unable to get before," says Ratcliffe.  

Over the past few years on the market, drones are increasingly becoming accessible and user-friendly. Wolf says his drone can now last 25 minutes in the air shooting footage, up significantly from seven minutes a few years ago.  

Drones also level the playing field by allowing hobbyists and mega brands to have access to similar content.  That said, while drones are available to everyone, the devices are best for emerging "predators"—that is those involved in every piece of the process (production, editing, etc.) per the panelists.  

Another key benefit with drones is live-streaming, particularly beyond the obvious sports and music festivals. DJI recently worked with Good Morning America for four stories that utilized the in-the-moment footage to deliver content that would be impossible for other cameras. The first story took a drone inside an active volcano, the second visited Vietnam caves, the third flew down a glacier in Iceland to view ice climbers to show the impact of climate change, and the final story featured a live African safari.  

While the panelists agree the cool thing about drones is controlling the perspective, the hardest component is controlling the narrative. "You have no idea where eyes will be," says Greenwell. "The approach to creating stories is entirely different," she says. "Instead of one shot, it is 360 shots piece by piece. You have to think about the total experience you are creating." 

Even more so, she adds, is the added layer of empathy. "How do you do close up, 360 depth in empathy?" says Greenwell.  

And drones may only be a sunny weather toy. Wolf commented that drones really are unable to fly through the rain since the raindrops get on the lens.

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