Amazon And Monsters Inc.


One way that advertisers can illustrate sublimated anger and fear is to use a monster as a stand-in. The creature can start out burdensome and scary, but with proper product usage, turn happy and sweet, or at least more “human.”

This makes sense in pharma ads for medications that turn graphically unpleasant symptoms into physical “monsters” that go away, or just get tamed enough to become civilized companions. Even if it seems too obvious or cloying, we allow ourselves to feel for these poignant creatures, which is harder to do with human actors.

And this brings up to a recent Amazon Prime spot, part of a “Find Your Happy Place” campaign to promote how the platform simplifies the streaming experience.

The campaign was launched as a response to Nielsen research that uncovered the fact that viewers feel so swamped with content and annoyed by the tedium of signing in and updating passwords, nearly one-fifth of screen watchers stop bingeing altogether.



We can’t have that in a society, not to mention an economy, that thrives on getting lost in screen-time entertainment.

I loved a previous “Find Your Happy Place” spot presenting the angry fictional epidemic of “Resting Binge Face” -- a condition hitting otherwise-fair-minded  citizens across the country bothered by trying to access overcomplicated sign-ins for streaming services.  The comedy is broad and parodies many industry cliches, such as the guy who pops up on a bus to answer a question from a rider: “Is resting binge face permanent?”

“It’s absolutely devastating!” he responds. “I’m a doctor!”

Still, I had big problems with the latest iteration of the “Find Your Happy Place” campaign. It’s been running since the beginning of March, and features an unsavory, highly shaggy troll. As tall as a building, with hands the size of a table for eight, he’s a cross between a much wider and more padded Chewbacca and the Muppet Fonzie Bear. It must have been fun to design and build him, but that doesn’t mean he’s fun to watch.

The ogre lives in a Fred Flintstones-style McMansion on a suburban street with human neighbors. They hear him grunting, growling, and making ear-piercingly loud animal noises as he fiddles with what looks like his Bedrock computer and joystick set up, not able to sign in. He gets so overwrought that he throws a giant console out of his fairytale picture window, which shatters like a bomb. Even the neighbors who wear headphones are exasperated, and one guy crosses the street to knock on his big medieval double doors.

From the rumblings, I expected the well-meaning dude who ventured forth to at least be eaten.  But no, he just gets to work fixing the monster’s remote, to increasing howls of delight. Monster man’s happy to see Jack Reacher, but in the funniest part of the spot, the monster’s really at home watching Larry David, who’s angry over a giant stain on his shirt, standing up and yelling at a sushi chef.

And here’s the bad part. Delighting in this platform so humanizes him that he puts a tie on over his work shirt (what, no pocket protector?) waters his dead, gothic lawn, and starts to help his neighbors by eating their garbage.

I was going to allow for this much transformation via the pleasures of Amazon Prime.

But then the creative team takes it too far. The monster has an outdoor viewing party and invites the neighbor children to cuddle up with him on his lap.

 “All Your Streaming in One App with One password. Prime Video. Find your happy place,” an announcer and caption explain.

Except that to be more apt, the monster should stay a monster, without transformation. What were they getting at by creating him? Is it the unconscious bubbling up? Because deep down, the creatives have hit on something. There’s nothing as unfriendly and scary as the father of Amazon’s business practices in action, and that’s not gonna change. Are they trolling us?

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