Taking a cue from BMW's use of Hollywood film directors to promote their vehicles, Amazon has taken it to another level with their new Amazon Theater. Whereas the German automaker used feature films to promote a vehicle, Amazon is using films to promote a shopping cart full of products.
In Amazon's first featured film, "two strangers meet their match in the shadowy dreamscape of 'Agent Orange,' a psychedelic love story from director Tony Scott. Using a hand-cranked camera to alter motion and titles in place of dialogue, Scott delivers a silent film for the 21st century.
The piece is short, tight and chuck full of product placement in a way that would make you cringe if you had paid ten dollars to watch. Everything from HP Digital Cameras to Converse Chuck Taylors to Stuart Weitzman boots get some well placed screen time. It looks to me like Amazon is mostly being used as the movies wardrobe. Agent Orange would still be an okay short film without the product placement.
The films credits are overtaken by hyperlinks to individual products save for clothing which mostly links to Nordstrom's boutique within Amazon. Each film also has featured Artist Boutique in this case director Tony Scott with even more hyperlinks to products related to the artist. From what I've seen Amazon completely missed the music boat by using licensed muzak for background noise as opposed to tracks by bands who have consumer goods available. Something television studios have been doing fora while now.
While I absolutely hate how bad product placement has crept into Hollywood films, I think It's appropriate for Amazon to fuse consumer goods with these films as they are a store and lay no claim to being artists. With this new feature, Amazon has created a new way for people to window shop. How entertaining and useful these films are is up to your own taste, but from what I have seen so far BMW is still king of cool when it comes to using film for promotion.
Finally, leave it to Hollywood to not get the point of this at all. Minnie Driver, looking through rainbows and puppy dog glasses, had this to say about her involvement in Amazon Theater's second film, Portrait:
Minnie baby, I hate to break it to you, but Amazon is giant online store they sell products shipped free in three to seven days, not dreams and inspiration. And in this case you are a mannequin, not a passionate innovator. Still, I have to say you did look convincing with that Jabra FreeSpeak BT250 Headset for Bluetooth Phones. Not everyone has the talent to pull that off.