Like drinking too much soda, drone racing can make you feel speedy and nauseous.
The first time I tried out drone racing at CES 2015, it was still a largely amateur affair. In the year and a half since, drone racing has become far more mainstream — securing venture capital funding, million dollar prize pools, and distribution on major media outlets like ESPN. Now big brands are getting in on the action. Mountain Dew announced today that it will be hosting the DR1 Invitational, a “one-hour drone-racing special slated to air on both Discovery Channel and Science Channel.”
To promote the race, Mountain Dew created an ad that imagines a new sport: drone hunting. A group of motocross racers chase a drone through the woods, trying to snag it with butterfly nets.
The story on this event has been framed as a way for Pepsi Co. to tap the burgeoning e-sports market, and the race will be streamed live on gaming’s platform of choice, Twitch. Following along from the drone’s-eye view — the same first-person view (FPV) that the pilot sees — can be exhilarating. Unfortunately, as warnings on YouTube clips, posted by a rival drone-racing league, make clear: it can also be nauseating for viewers who aren’t accustomed to seeing their world flipped and rolled at very high speeds.
What will they think of next? This is fun – all that is missing is some Mad Max gear. They went full out on this spot which suggests that the promotions will only get bigger and better as the race gets closer. Really unexpected choice of broadcast partners in Discovery and the Science Channel given the gamer demo.
Some additional detail about the strategy and the event in a follow-on story in Variety.