Amazon caused a minor stir this past weekend with its pre-Super Bowl commercial with the storyline that Alexa had lost her voice. Alexa’s silence was preceded by a coughing sound so presumably she has the flu. Talk about doubling down on Alexa personification at a time when Google still refuses to give Assistant a name.
In the ad, an Amazon staffer tells Jeff Bezos that “the replacements are ready,” but she is clearly anxious about it. Seeing the replacements in today’s ad you can understand why. The new video depicts celebrities ranging from Sir Anthony Hopkins and Gordon Ramsey to Rebel Wilson and Cardi B filling in for Alexa and answering user questions. However, the answers aren’t quite what you’d expect from Alexa.
Alexa Ad Creative That Hits on a Number of Keys
This is the type of creative that could have easily fallen flat, but actually lands pretty well. It’s humorous, reminds consumers that Alexa is out there to buy or to use if its already in the home. It will get people talking about Alexa during the Super Bowl where people might share their personal opinions about the device. You can bet there will be one or two Alexa diehards in every crowd. And, it shows celebrities essentially endorsing the product. In the end, the humor stands out, but what will be remembered is that Alexa has some cache. This is solid positioning to put out there in advance of the Apple HomePod launch next month. In fact, the ad is running the same week as HomePod starts shipping.
Life Imitates South Park
The other fun angle here is that South Park already did this in a way. In last season’s first episode local blue collar workers become Alexa-like devices that answered questions and performed simple tasks. I don’t know if that is where Amazon’s agency Lucky Generals sourced the idea, but the execution is different. With that said, the characters of South Park surely would applaud Rebel Wilson’s performance. Alexa and Echo have become cultural icons over the past year and it only makes sense for Amazon to push that thread a little further.
There Might Be More To This Than Humor
You should also note Alexa’s voice that closes the ad sounds familiar, but a bit different. It sounds more natural, more like the prosody you would expect from a human. If that is Alexa’s new voice and it can carry the same rhythm and intonation into its other speaking, users will be pleased.
Amazon Has Been Teasing Some Celebrity Alexa Appearances
Over the last couple of days, Amazon has been posting short YouTube videos showing celebrities receiving a device that looks like an Echo Dot incorporated into a headset. Could that be a new Echo product? Time will tell, but for the ads it makes an excellent visual that ties back to the imagery people associate most strongly with Alexa, the Echo. It might even help sell a few more devices.