Brand promise, yes. But, will it fly?
I like online shopping. It’s simple, quick and you have a feeling like there’s nothing you can’t find while chilling on the couch with a glass of wine. Whether it’s Amazon, eBay or some hard-to-find comic book store, it takes less clicks each time to purge your bank account. It seems as if shopping without any human interaction might just be the perfect way to shop.
When it comes to buying stuff online we, as consumers, always perceive the trade as a good deal. Why? Because we give out money and we get time instead. And time is the ultimate value. Just think of all that time you’ve saved getting that specific book online instead of looking for it all over town. It all comes down to a quick find and most importantly, a fast and reliable delivery service. Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer, claims the best is yet to come.
In December 2013, a few days after Americans pushed each other during Black Friday sales and just one day before a new hype-sale (Cyber Monday) is about to hit the online community, Amazon announces Prime Air, a premium delivery service that uses unmanned aerial vehicles (let’s just call them drones) to fly orders in as little as 30 minutes. Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, presented the whole project on the show “60 Minutes” and played a video showing a small octocopter drone effortlessly flying a small package to some guy’s doorstep. Prime Air exploded all over the news in an instant and became the hottest trending topic during the next few weeks, putting the biggest spotlight on the Amazon brand during the most active online shopping period of the year. Well played Amazon, well played.
But, as always, there’s a catch. It is quite known by now that US laws don’t allow commercial flights of any unmanned vehicles and that the strict FAA standards won’t change overnight. An that makes this project something of a concept car – a brand flexing their muscles with an awesome idea that just might be.
However, that didn’t stop UPS, the biggest logistics company on the planet, in their immediate response claiming “research on drone shipping is in process”. FedEx, on the other hand, went with the “Steve Ballmer approach” laughing at the whole thing like it was the “too expensive iPhone”.
Science fiction or not, Amazon got what it wanted – all the attention in the world. Tons of free publicity made this story as hot as the debates that sprang around it. And the brand delivered a story most people dreamed about, even though it’s still just a story. It gave Amazon a strong sense of innovation and demonstrated a massive brand strength – amazon.com values your time.
The amazing presentation of things to be, even as just a concept or a cute render, is something that the car industry does all the time and it works just fine. People appreciate brands that think ahead, or think different for that matter.
The funny thing about this whole ordeal is the case of the DomiCopter, a video showing a drone helicopter delivering Domino’s pizza somewhere in the UK. An official video from Domino’s Pizza showing the stunt was published six months earlier on YouTube, in June 2013, getting a litle bit over 1.500.000 views which isn’t bad for a national campaign. The only problem is that the DomiCopter, just like Amazon Prime Air, won’t happen anytime soon. However, one thing did happen – Amazon’s shopping season in 2013 was the biggest yet, breaking records in sales, services and fresh membership.
In the aftermath of the Christmas shopping craze, the numbers Amazon has shown us serve as tangible proof that a great brand story can go a long way. Amazon Prime Air is an impactful contribution to such a story, one that helped the brand profit on both ends, and even though they’re not reality at the moment, flying delivery drones remain a noteworthy good intention much closer to heaven than a pavement in hell.