Amazon's efficient storytelling

Amazon's efficient storytelling





Amazon's efficient storytelling


Tony Hallett
Managing director

Tony set up Collective Content in 2011 so brands can more easily become publishers and tell stories. This built on 15 years in media, from reporter to publishing director at Silicon Media Group, CNET Networks and CBS Interactive.

It’s been a while since we drilled down on an ad. But Amazon – just as in its core business – has shown incredible efficiency in its series of 30-second TV/web slots, which is worth a quick analysis.

You possibly know the ad in question, which is part of the tear-jerking series (the priest and the imam, and so on). Though set in Japan, this one has been aired around the world and during the Superbowl. The ultimately promote pushing one-click ordering and next-day delivery.

Here’s the version for a Japanese audience, though note how the storytelling works anywhere:

Now Amazon, like other leaders such as Apple, Facebook, Google and (still) Microsoft, is no stranger to pulling on our heart strings. But this piece is about much more than a sad-looking dog.

Think of the structure:

Part 1: Dog, new family with baby, baby cries at dog – pure rejection.
Part 2: Family in house, baby happily plays with toy lion, father notices the saddest-looking (or just nonplussed?) dog ever. Father seen ordering using One-Click.
Part 3: Dog appears in a toy lion’s mane, dog walks up to baby – cue big moment – baby reaches out to a worried-looking dog. Acceptance. The End.

So three parts, each 10 seconds, for an evenly-paced 30-second spot. In a conventional format that’s been around for decades, there’s a rhythm there that leads to a natural – happy – conclusion.

Now you may or may not like this kind of thing. It’s certainly not the deeper engagement with customers that we usually talk about and do. But the bigger point is that it’s really hard to be this economical and effective. Much like Amazon’s core retail and logistic services, there’s a lot going on out of sight.

The lesson for all of our storytelling is several-fold:

  • Simple is good.
  • Play to your audience’s heart and head.
  • Think of stories that travel – regardless of culture or language.
  • Have a distinct voice (or could we argue the tone here isn’t that different to a Google ad?).
  • Get in a cute dog. Or cat. OK, maybe that’s not going to happen in your world. But you know how often this must get suggested?

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