It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a… QR code?!

To reduce contact with people and objects due to the pandemic, it seems like QR codes – those little black pixelated squares – are now a part of our everyday lives.

And while most of us usually use them at restaurants or bars, this company has decided to use their codes in a unique way…

Lighting up the sky… with a square!


Last month, Shanghai’s night sky was lit up with hundreds of drones that were assembled to create a giant scannable QR code in the sky.

It was used to promote Bilibili – a video-streaming platform focused on animation, comics, and games.

The gigantic QR code acted as a modern-day billboard that was presented at the end of a light show. The show celebrated the one-year anniversary of a Japanese role-playing game called “Princess Connect! Re:Dive.”

During the light show over Shanghai’s promenade, 1500 drones assembled to create the video game’s logo along with some of its characters. For the finale, it transformed into a hovering QR code that sends you to Bilibili’s homepage.

Some reactions were mixed…


Last year, Bilibili used regular printed codes that were placed throughout the city to promote their game. But CEO Chen Rui of Bilibili wanted a bigger and more camera-friendly approach to market the game for its anniversary… so the company took it to great heights. (Clearly!)

Yet, while many saw it as an entertaining way to showcase the merging of technology and marketing, others were critical of the decision. Some even compared it to a dystopian society where ads and consumerism were constantly promoted by large companies like in the movie Bladerunner 2049.

Nothing new for China

QR codes are nothing new in China. They’re already used as a primary payment method for many goods and services. And during COVID-19, local governments have used them to track risk of exposure amongst its citizens.  

Drone shows are also not that new to the city. Big-name brands such as Bulgari and Coach have used their logos to light up the sky using drones as well.

So, it doesn’t look like the merging of ads and tech will be going away any time soon!

What do you think about drones being used to promote companies? Is it a good idea for marketing, or mostly just acts as flashy entertainment?

Let us know what you think down below!

Header image source: IGN Benelux

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