Last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos gave CBS news program 60 Minutes access to the world’s supply store, boasting that some day, “Anything you want on Earth, you’re going to get from us.” He showed how he envisions customers will get things, too, unveiling his grand plan for delivery: drones.
Yes, Amazon plans to use small flying machines programmed to deliver that must-have item to your door. Bezos’ calm delivery and demonstration of a drone model indicated that this wasn’t a joke, though it seems to have been taken as such.
The problems with drone delivery, including entanglement in trees and phone wires and the drones’ limited weight capacity made the idea ripe for humor. One meme shows men shooting rifles with the caption, “What’re you boys doing? Hunting for Christmas presents.” A fake Amazon delivery attempt notice reads, “Your package has been destroyed along with the drone after it strayed into restricted airspace.” Amazon got an infomercial on a news program by allowing unveiling a surprise that may have made been the butt of jokes but also got people talking.
THE PR VERDICT: “B” (Good Show) for Amazon.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Cultivate mystique and draw back the curtains – briefly. Amazon’s operations and Bezos’ strategies were recently revealed, in a not entirely pleasing light, in a book called The Everything Store: Jeff Bezos and the Age of Amazon. Two ways to deal with negative publicity: fight it, or distract from it. In this case, Bezos unveiled a pie-in-the-sky idea, complete with cute flying prototype. Insane or inspired? It hardly matters; whether people are joking about it or hoping for it, a week later they’re still talking about Amazon.