Drone Companies Court Skeptical Public

The marketing shift could help alter the public perception of drones, which have sparked safety and privacy concerns and share a name with the military's infamous unmanned attack planes.

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Two of the world's largest drone companies signaled a shift in messaging when they announced new models in recent days.

Instead of focusing on consumers' ability to pilot the unmanned aerial vehicles — which have a mixed reputation, at best, with the general public — Chinese company DJI and California-based 3D Robotics instead highlighted their new drones' video and photography capabilities.

DJI, the world's largest manufacturer of drones for consumer use, launched the Phantom 3 last week, which officials hope will introduce high-quality aerial photography to the general public.

3D Robotics, meanwhile, this week unveiled a Solo model that will fully integrate with GoPro cameras. CEO Chris Anderson said buyers would essentially fly the camera rather than the drone.

In addition, both companies rolled out the vehicles using striking video campaigns. DJI rolled footage from its drone over readings of poems by Robert Frost and Walt Whitman, among others, while 3D teased the Solo launch with a video of primates using its controller titled, "Dawn of the Aerial Age."

A report in The Washington Post noted the ads' similarities to campaigns by Apple, which tend to make emotional appeals to consumers rather than focus on technological specifications.

The marketing shift could help alter the public perception of drones, which have sparked safety and privacy concerns and share a name with the military's infamous unmanned attack planes. A February poll showed 42 percent of Americans opposed private ownership of drones.

 

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