I bet it sounded like a great idea in the boardroom: Hey, let’s find a nasty traffic jam, with lots of stop-and-go traffic and fly some drones over it with advertising!
Wow! Great idea! Captive audience! Stuck in their cars!
And they will just look up in the air at our drones while in this stop-and-go traffic and read our advertisements about car-pooling!
What could possibly go wrong?
I once ripped on Geico and the Port Authority, for stupidly planning to put Geico ads in a crowded toll booth plaza. The signs would have touted “safety” while diverting the attention of drivers to read the signs in that crowded plaza. Genius.
Human error from distracted driving is the leading form of injury from vehicle collisions. Advertising schemes that distract drivers on crowded roadways can only makes things worse.
So Uber is taking things to the next level past Geico and the Port Authority, cranking stupidity up to 12, because the eventual injuries that would most certainly happen from the continuation of such a program shouldn’t be joked about by saying the stupidity merely goes to 11.
The activity is taking place in Latin America, where Uber hopes to increase their market share.
But can this Latin American experiment be replicated on New York’s roadways? Well, even if they could somehow get FAA approval to do it, my guess is that the company would get sued out of existence for the very predictable, and quite inevitable, injuries that such distractions would be a cause of.
This wouldn’t simply be negligence, but in my view, recklessness, that would subject the company to punitive damages.
(hat tip Kashmir Hill via Twitter)