, Inc.: Amazon Theater campaign

Mark Lane

OVERVIEW, Inc., entered the retail marketplace as a pioneering online bookseller in 1995, and though it had been steadily diversifying its product offerings all along, by 2004 most consumers still thought of the website only in connection with books and music. Having recently made the transition, thanks to years of capital-intensive investment, from dot-com trendsetter to actual profit maker, Amazon wanted its customers to begin thinking of its site whenever they needed anything. Unconvinced that television and other traditional forms of advertising could translate into online sales, Amazon and its founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, enlisted Fallon Worldwide's Minneapolis office, a leader in online branded entertainment, to spread the message about Amazon's breadth of products via itself.

The result was "Amazon Theater," a series of five short films starring well-known Hollywood actors and integrating products available for purchase on The films, sponsored by JP Morgan Chase & Co., cost approximately $2.5 million to produce. Timed to coincide with peak holiday traffic, they premiered on each Tuesday between November 9 and December 7, 2004, and were packaged as a free "holiday gift" to customers. Though the featured Amazon products were folded into the stories without fanfare, they were listed as starring players in an interactive credit roll at the end of each movie, allowing viewers to click and go to linked Amazon pages to make immediate purchases.