The holiday season is game time for businesses—hitting your targets before the close of the year is crucial. With that in mind, TGI Fridays launched its “Mobile Mistletoe” Christmas promotion, in which a small drone flew through the restaurant with a sprig of mistletoe to encourage diners to kiss.
The promotion indeed had an impact. Quite literally. And not in a good way.
On Dec. 4, a drone at the chain’s Brooklyn, New York, location hit a local photographer in the face, resulting in minor injuries, Brooklyn Daily reported. The event was going just fine until the restaurant’s drone operator tried to pull off a trick.
According to the outlet, David Quiones tried to land one of the quadcopters—a mini helicopter with four sets of rotors—on a Brooklyn reporter’s hand. Unfortunately, the aerial theatrics spun out of control after the reporter flinched and the drone hit the photographer, who was standing close by. The drone propellers cut the photographer’s nose and chin, drawing a few drops of blood.
“It literally chipped off a tip of my nose,” Brooklyn Daily photographer Georgine Benvenuto told her paper.
The “drone strike,” as the paper called the incident, will not deter the restaurant chain from continuing its holiday stunt. TGI Fridays’ spokeswoman Frances Karkosak told the paper that its Mobile Mistletoe events in Long Island and Texas went off without any emergency landings. The accident in Brooklyn used a small 10-inch drone while other events are using a larger, 23-inch drone with six rotors.
“We do not let consumers touch it,” Karkosak said.
The business lesson here? No matter what your holiday stunt is, make sure you have full control over the proceedings and can keep everyone safe. In case you’re considering including drones, be aware that they need to be registered with the Federal Aviation Administration for commercial use. For safety, make sure you read the FAA’s dos and don’ts for unmanned aerial vehicles. As a rule of thumb, drones should not be flown near people, above urban airspace, or within five miles of an airport.
Drone technology can lead to great innovations, or, occasionally, terrible consequences. In September 2013, a 19-year-old Brooklyn man was killed after his model helicopter spun out of control and struck him in the head. On a lighter note, drones have been known to cause minor mishaps, including hitting this newlywed couple during a photo shoot: