Home > publicity, Uncategorized > 23andMe not-a-BLIMP! (apparently it’s a Zeppelin)

23andMe not-a-BLIMP! (apparently it’s a Zeppelin)

23andMe Blimp! Just look at it!

23andMe Not-a-Blimp! Just look at it! (not my pic)

So on my way to work today, driving across from 880 to Westbound 80, avoiding the Bay Bridge toll plaza, I saw a pair of chromosomes from my onramp in oakland that I knew immediately belonged to the 23andMe logo. Nevertheless, these were on a not-a-blimp! I tried to take a snapshot on my phone, but sadly, resolution wasn’t so great and  the not-a-blimp was out of my driving trajectory, but a quick search online and lo and behold, there definitely is a 23andMe not-a-blimp!

Talk about aggressive marketing! This is taking the DTC part of personal genomics waaayyyy beyond what I had expected. Sure, trendy spit parties at fashion week that make the Times is one thing, but a not-a-blimp to harass SF commuters? C’mon. Personal genomics is not something that can be sold as a simple commodity. The procedures, risks, and implications of it can be serious, and by advertising the service as though it was a movie or typical commercial product is tricking those that are less genetically literate (unfamiliar in complex genetics) into thinking that this is just  for fun.

According to Alex Hall, CEO of Airship Ventures, via ChubbyBrain

While blimps can also do advertising, the Zeppelin is 50ft larger than any of them and can provide unique promotional opportunities…

I can only speculate how much this costs in advertising. Sure, the previous contract was with Disney-Pixar promoting UP, very appropriate, especially in the Bay Area. But personal genomics?


Airship Ventures even has a time-lapse Youtube video they just posted of the application of the 23andMe logo that was uploaded yesterday.



After a bit more digging, and not to be offensive, there’s something strangely incestuous about the relationship between Google, 23andMe (which you already knew), and this Airship Ventures company. A relationship that involves founders, mothers, board members (i.e. 23andMe cofounder’ s mother, back in october of last year, writes a travelogue promoting Airship Ventures (links below). Airship Ventures’ major investor is 23andMe’s first listed board member, which for once, isn’t all that surprising… So that’s where this is coming from..





Apparently the difference between a Zeppelin and a Blimp is whether or not there is a rigid, internal structure. The former, which is the case mentioned here, is rigid, wherease a blimp is, well.. floppy ( that word’s for you, Beth).


you can track the zeppelin!!! in case you actively wanted to be visually spammed by the zeppelin….


via 23andme’s facebook page: which is.. having a contest for best picture of the zeppelin to get fifty-buck discounts? really, whatchu gonna do 23andme when its some 15 year old kid that wins the contest? oh yeah, they don’t have restrictions on age, despite established NSGC positions about childhood testing

Prenatal and childhood testing for adult-onset genetic conditions should always include genetic education and counseling. Genetic counseling for clients considering such testing should include exploration of the psychological/social risks and benefits of early genetic identification from both the parents’ and child’s perspectives. When possible the child should be involved in the decision about whether or not to be tested. Other issues discussed should include the possibility of discrimination in insurance, education and employment for the child or family in both the immediate and more distant future.

Categories: publicity, Uncategorized Tags: , ,
  1. Chris
    June 25, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    It’s not a blimp,it’s a Zeppelin.

  2. June 27, 2009 at 5:09 am

    Seriously? This has all the smell of despair. Don’t think that’ll get SB 482 passed…..


  3. rick meider
    July 12, 2009 at 9:11 pm

    oh you big baby!!! An advertising blimp over the Bay Area…boo hoo hoo hoo. Try not looking in the sky if it scares you!!!! Amazing this information got posted on TechChrunch….so disappointed!!!

  4. BTO
    July 13, 2009 at 1:46 am

    this has nothing to do with any advertiser advertising on a zeppelin. it’s a personal genomics company that’s advertising on a zeppelin in the sky… a personal genomics company that sells a product that has hereditary risk implications and potential ethical/legal concerns written all over it… created by someone who has but an undergrad biology degree and some (very) wealthy friends/relatives who happen to dip into science.

  5. i prefer maybach zep
    July 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm

    Actually their “consent doc” if you can call it that, says you have to be 18 and over but of course they don’t have any way to control that.


  6. BTO
    July 13, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    interesting.. a year ago (sept 08 that is) when i was researching their consent procedures, they had a small comment about being okay working with kids, but joked a bit about getting enough saliva from an infant – thus condoning samples submitted by minors. looks like they change that practice due to the criticism they may have been receiving?

  7. October 30, 2009 at 1:44 am

    I can’t think of a less appropriate way to advertise genetic testing. this is the trap of commercial testing. Having worked in DTC genetic testing (DNA.com, DNADIrect.com) all I can say is this is the kind of stuff that will make these companies get regulated. Not a wise move.

  1. July 11, 2009 at 7:31 pm
  2. March 13, 2010 at 4:53 am
  3. May 31, 2010 at 3:38 pm

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