Amazon Dances into Viewers’ Hearts

The Show Must Go On



One of the big questions around this year’s Christmas advertising has been how much to acknowledge the coronavirus pandemic. Do you give audiences something that acknowledges their changed reality? Or do you give them some fantasy and escapism?

Amazon’s Christmas ad – telling the story of a ballerina whose big opportunity gets cancelled due to Covid – takes the first approach. The ad won a lot of critical plaudits, and its 3-Star performance is far from bad. But compared to more straightforward Christmas ads – and compared to Amazon’s own previous performance – the score is a step down.

Last year, for instance, Amazon’s ad scored an exceptional 5.4-Stars. It featured the brand’s singing parcels and a spirited version of “Everybody Needs Somebody”. It’s clear that the brand felt such festivities weren’t appropriate for 2020. But consumer brands which have kept things festive and escapist this year – like supermarket Aldi – have scored very well.

There’s better news when it comes to the brand’s short-term effectiveness. “The Show Must Go On” scores a very healthy 1.47 Spike (predicting sales activation) and 78% brand fluency (how quickly people recognise the brand). But both these scores are also down on the 2019 Christmas ad.

One reason for the shift is that Amazon had spent several years successfully building up a Fluent Device – its smiling, singing parcels – which it used in every Christmas ad. This built recognition and cued positive audience response. There’s no place for the parcels in this year’s more sombre ad, which means that distinctive asset goes to waste. Hopefully if the pandemic recedes in 2021, we’ll see positivity (and the parcels) return.