I’ve reached a point in life where I refuse to get my hopes up for anything that doesn’t involve cushioned surfaces or croutons. My favorite musicians are at the end of their run. Holidays and family vacations are too often exercises in endurance. The smartest approach is to enter all endeavors with no expectations, then delight in the rare joy of a slightly-under-the-radar find.
That said, I could not be more geeked up for the era of drone delivery. Sure, drones might invite the occasional unwelcome rendezvous with utility wires and prove less than reliable during sleet squalls and encourage those hooligan kids down the street to recalibrate their skeet-shooting aspirations. But once you get past those eensy-teensy issues, their coolness kicks in with the intensity of a thousand tanning lamps.
I can’t be the only one excited about this. Again: It is within the realm of possibility that, before I depart this wacky little marble, a flying machine will drop a dust buster or 60-pack of paper towels on my doorstep. Do I need this? No, of course not. Do I want it? Hell yeah I do.
I thus circled December 7, the expected date of Prime Air’s first delivery attempt, on my calendar and appended it with a slew of hearts and arrows. This was gonna deliver the stuff, literally and metaphorically.
I anticipated a sweeping slo-mo presentation of the package’s journey set to the strains of “Flight of the Valkyries,” mixing in additional footage of motorcycle wheelies and Ronda Rousey for good measure. The impact would be so profound as to spur lawmakers to trek back to DC on Christmas Eve to defund the FAA before it gets any crazy ideas about regulation.
Yet when the video finally arrived Wednesday morning, I was underwhelmed. How do you mess this up? Here are a few of the items and concepts Amazon had to work with: unmanned aircraft, commerce, robotics, emergency landings, close encounters of the avian kind… the list goes on. You’re telling me Amazon, one of the most effective marketers and savagely efficient sellers of our lifetime, couldn’t do any better than this?
I don’t know where to begin. The clip references the “innovative Prime Air” technology, but shares no details. The only glimpse we get inside one of the fulfillment centers is of a comely rep placing two items into a box. Nobody bothers to ask Prime Air customer zero Richard B. to weigh in on his experience (though to be fair, I don’t know how much the guy could add. “Yeah, I ordered some stuff from Amazon and Amazon delivered it. The system works, man.” Etc.). And the video concludes with the following narration: “Well, it’d be easy to say ‘the sky’s the limit.’ But that’s not exactly true anymore, is it?” Whoever scripted that line has a lot to answer for, in this life or the next.
Most unforgivably, the video gives us no close-up shots of the Prime Air drones themselves, much less information about their provenance or technical specs. How fast can these things move? How long can they fly on a single charge? Can Prime members request a drone custom-painted to resemble a Stryper guitar? I want answers. I can handle the truth.
No, Amazon doesn’t need the branding pop the way most other companies and organizations do. And yes, there are approximately 32 million sources in and around the Internet that purport to convey the most recent and relevant information about drones.Here’s the thing, though: None of those sources have the means and ambition to air-drop a Blu-Ray of My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 on my doorstep. Brands only get so many slam-dunk opportunities; Amazon completely muffed this one.