Listen. Things are bad. But consider how much worse they could be! Sure, our modern world may have the societal institutions outpaced by technological advancement, rapidly decaying ecosystem, insular extremist communities, and rampant income inequality that codify the cyberpunk genre, but consider this: we don’t have a single Blade Runner-style blimp advertising life in the off-world colonies. Oh, hang on, my producers are telling me that we in fact have a new form of sky advertising that’s much, much worse. Cool.
Tomorrow, November 3, a swam of illuminated drones will take to the skies above New York City. They’ll do a little dance, flash some bright colors, and remind everyone that Candy Crush has existed for a full decade. The game may have hundreds of millions of monthly players, but it seems its corporate overlords at Activision Blizzard want to seek out the last few poor souls who remain blissfully unaware of its existence. To do so, the company has partnered with a drone advertiser called Pixis to turn New York’s sky into one big ad.
Pixis is no stranger to our automotive world, having done activations for NASCAR and Formula 1 races in the past. But while those displays promoted events, things people could go and experience, this latest endeavor is simply an ad for a product. A big product, no less, with which most people in New York are probably familiar. Yet this isn’t enough, apparently, and now every citizen of the city needs to watch the actual air we breathe be commandeered to sell us something.
Perhaps worst of all, it seems people will actually watch. The advertisement has been published on websites like Patch as an event, meaning it’s something people can plan around and look forward to. Just as an aside, in the game Cyberpunk 2077 there’s a TV channel called Just Ads. It’s meant to be satire, but here we are. And that game doesn’t even have ads that take up the entire sky!
Of course, there are myriad reasons this is a bad idea. It can mess with birds’ migratory routes, any broken drones will instantly become falling debris, and — oh yeah — the whole flight legally can’t even happen in New York. But the Torment Nexus has been created, we now have sky ads, and we can’t go back. You better star believing in cyberpunk dystopias, reader, because you’re in one.