Breakthrough or Intrusive? An Analysis of the Donald Glover AirDrop

Elizabeth Pollard
Sitewire
Published in
6 min readMay 3, 2019

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It shouldn’t surprise anyone that Donald Glover’s first ad for his Adidas sneakers was as cool as literally everything else Donald Glover has done.

But it was surprising, really freaking cool, and intrusive.

Catch up: 2019 Coachella-concert goers were pinged with an AirDrop photo request from the popular musician/actor/producer Donald Glover, also known as Childish Gambino, during the festival. Users who accepted the request then received a coupon for a free pair of Glover’s take on Adidas’ Nizza line of sneakers.

Image via Adidas

For those who don’t know what AirDrop is, here’s why this ad was so intriguing. AirDrop is Apple’s wireless device-to-device file sharing tool, with which you can share photos, files, website links and pretty much everything else you’d normally send in an email or text. It’s become a way for friends and family to quickly share a batch of selfies and occasionally memes to strangers at concerts.

But when the few lucky people at Coachella were pinged not with a meme, but with an offer for free shoes, it begged the question — is this casual form of advertising a breakthrough or too intrusive?

I’d personally like to know whether it was Glover, Adidas’ agency, or a tech-savvy Gen-Z intern at Adidas who came up with this idea. Regardless, I find it ironic and fantastic that this passed the green light from multiple execs given that…

  • A recent study by eMarketer found that consumers believe digital ads have become more prevalent and more intrusive.
  • Just one year ago, GDPR went into effect in Europe, causing massive changes to the way companies are required to collect, use, and store data
  • Facebook, one of the largest advertising platforms, is legally and very publicly tripping over themselves on multiple continents because people are concerned about how intrusive and Orwellian the social network has become regarding users’ privacy.

There is a pot of drama simmering on the stove and its swirling with questions on user privacy, intrusiveness, and data. In context of the AirDrop stunt, it had me asking what exactly is intrusive advertising, and is the AirDrop stunt too intrusive? Before defining intrusiveness…

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Elizabeth Pollard
Sitewire

artist / digital strategist / fueled by curiosity