A recent post on the All Points Blog brought up an interesting debate about the deliberate inclusion of signs in aerial flyovers. What has triggered this debate that started on Slashdot was the invitation by Google Australia to actively participate in the January 26th flyover of Sydney Australia in celebration of Australia Day. With the tagline “This Australia Day, put yourself on the map”, Google Australia invited Australians to come out in droves and make their presence known to the world. Particpants were invited to “hoist a sign, arrange your family into a fun formation or just get a bunch of friends together to wave” when seeing the Google branded airplane fly overhead. A clickable map was made available on the promotion site that indicated when the plane would be flying at any particular point in the Sydney Harbour area.
Reaction to this invitation has been mixed with some parties going to great lengths to prepare for the aerial flyover. The Swift City blog created an elaborate eye in the middle of a public park complete with an advertisement for a dating service. Some have decried the use of a public space for creating what was denounced as effectively spamming Google Maps. Other comments noted that there are countless other examples of deliberate markings on the ground before this recent promotional event. Examples range from the commercial, for example a Target store in College Point, New York that has emblazened its logo on the roof, to more offensive such as the scrawling of swear words onto a field in England or the school kids that immortalized their school by tracing part of the human anatomy on to the top of their school’s roof. A phenonmenom not unique to Google Maps, Kentucky Fried Chicken partnered up with GeoEye to capture the Colonel as part of a marketing scheme to unveil their new logo this past November.