Amazon v. Netflix – Attack of the Drones

Netflix just released a hilarious spoof of Amazon’s Prime Air video. The video mocks Amazon’s underdeveloped prototype and comically illustrates what was on everyone’s lips whilst watching the Prime Air spot a few months ago (i.e. this is a potential disaster or at the very least a minefield of litigation waiting to destroy the Amazon brand).

Watch the Amazon original to get you situated:

Now watch the Netflix spoof, released earlier this month:

While Amazon and Netflix aren’t really competitors in the sense that say Samsung and Apple are, they’ve both been vying for a similar piece of the streaming viewership pie since Amazon introduced Amazon Instant Video. Still, Netflix’s move was not an attempt to unseat its competitor in terms of market share or drive its own subscription rate up. Their video raises a few interesting trends that are beginning to evolve in the digital space.

1. Brand Wars

Coke and Pepsi have been doing it since before anyone else, but it seems like everyone’s doing it now. Brand battles are here to stay. Brands aren’t just speaking at the consumer anymore, they’re triggering dialogues between brands and consumers alike and benefiting from the shared visibility.

2. Covert Branding

The Netflix parody wasn’t shared on the Netflix YouTube channel or in any official capacity, and yet it has benefited the brand immensely. This is an instance of covert branding at play. The absence of the “official” tag and the rumors about the video being leaked to the public (it was meant to be a lark for company insiders) augment its contentiousness and will enhance its potential for virality. Online video also allows brands to associate themselves with, yet maintain an “innocent” distance from controversial, creative branded content.

3. Ads don’t just sell products anymore

The Prime Air ad is not selling the consumer a service. The service doesn’t exist. It is a distant, hypothetical offering, fraught with potential complications. Amazon’s video is often labeled a cheap PR stunt used to generate buzz around the brand during the high-volume shopping season. But that’s a little harsh. Amazon did use the video for visibility, but it also managed to remain true to its message. The ad isn’t selling a product; it’s selling “possibility”. This makes sense, when you consider the fact that making what was once inconceivable, routine is the essence of the Amazon brand.

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