Fishing by Drone? This Brand’s Ridiculous Stunt Shows People Really Do Like Shortcuts

SuperHeroes hits the water for Setapp

You’re fishing one morning on a sun-kissed lake, popping brews with some pals and enjoying a dappled day free from work and worry.

Suddenly, a remote-controlled drone buzzes your boat to deliver a brand message.

How relaxing!

The New York office of ad agency SuperHeroes developed the stunt as part of its introductory campaign for Setapp. The subscription-based service from MacPaw selects, aggregates and continually updates Mac apps based on user preferences, so folks can quickly find what they need while avoiding trips to the App Store.

That notion of taking a short cut inspired the fishing stunt, which was shot on Lake Butler in Orlando, Florida, by directors Pete Marquis and Jamie McCelland (who were on Adweek’s Creative 100 in 2015). The drone delivered a card bearing a simple message, “Take the shortcut”—along with a basket containing a bass.

Watch the clip below to see if folks fell for the gag hook, line and sinker:

“We had two boats, both with cameras and very long lenses so we could keep a safe distance, along with another HD camera on the drone itself,” Rob Zuurbier, partner and managing director of SuperHeroes New York, tells AdFreak. “None of the fishermen knew we were coming—we didn’t want to break the element of surprise. We had some actors as backup, just in case, but ended up not having to use them at all.”

The whole flying-fish concept sounds a bit like angling for trouble, but Zuurbier reports that most of the fishermen got totally hooked by the airborne lure.

“Most people thought it was fun and took the fish,” he says. “Several people waved and thanked us. There were only two people who didn’t understand what was going on and shooed us away.”

That’s not to say there weren’t some challenges or setbacks.

“One of our PA’s fell in the water while she was getting the release forms signed” by a couple of anglers who appear in the ad, Zuurbier recalls. “She was a good sport, and we let her hang out the rest of the day.”

Also, one pair of fisherman briefly “freaked out” when SuperHeroes’ fishy drone broke into their solitude. “It confused the hell out of them!” Zuurbier says. “We apologized and didn’t use them for the stunt. They were laughing as we left, like, ‘What on earth are these guys doing?'”

We wonder how they would have reacted to the agency’s seminal (and hair-raising) elevator and men’s room stunts from a few years back?

SuperHeroes has mellowed since those giddy days, fashioning milder but still memorable ads, including Asus’ speed-rapper spot, as well as a crowdsourced ad for the handset company with aliens and dinosaurs.

“Setapp is a totally new service and an unknown brand, so we needed something that would create eyeballs in the U.S. market,” Zuurbier says. “With a slice of irreverence, we grab [the audience’s] attention, to then follow up [the fishing stunt] with functional content like the introduction video, display ads and a range of YouTube bumper ads.”

You can see more campaign content below, including a fishing-themed video where shortcuts weren’t required.

“Our two actors, who had absolutely no fishing experience, and with whom we were acting out being extremely clumsy, at one point actually caught a fish—a small bass,” says Zuurbier, “even though the fishing rods we were using did not even have real bait on them!”

Client: Setapp
Agency: SuperHeroes New York
Managing Director: Rob Zuurbier
Executive Creative Director: Rogier Vijverberg
Creative Director: Niek Eijsbouts, Hunter Fine
Creatives: Ola Syse, Elliot Stewart-Franzen
Graphic Designer: Long Wu
Account Lead: Beth Irvin
Agency Producers: Severien Jansen, Yumi Yamsuan
Production Company: Good Engine Media
Executive Producer: Andrew Garland
Line Producer: Myriam Schroeter
Directed by: Pete Marquis & Jamie McCelland
D.O.P.: Eric Ulbrich
Editors: Chris Theibert, Huy Nguyen
VFX: Huy Nguyen
Sound design: Silver Sound
Client: MacPaw
Responsible at MacPaw: Yaroslav Stepanenko, Julia Petryk, Olga Ku

@DaveGian David Gianatasio is a longtime contributor to Adweek, where he has been a writer and editor for two decades. Previously serving as Adweek's New England bureau chief and web editor, he remains based in Boston.