Over the last decade, more and more Americans have cut the cord. Not the cord that connects children to their parents, but the cord connecting paying customers to cable television. Millions of customers have cut the cord from pay-TV companies like Comcast and AT&T. The majority of Americans now subscribe to entertainment streaming services. There are over 200 different streaming services available in North America alone. These services provide entertainment without viewers needing to be interrupted by ads. In some cases, streaming services allow people to binge-watch their favorite programs, rather than waiting weekly for episodes to air. Most households subscribe to multiple streaming services, a number that grew tremendously over the last year because of COVID-19.
Though Netflix was not the first to begin streaming content online, they are by far the biggest streaming service worldwide. The fastest growing services over the last year were Disney+ and Hulu, but neither has surpassed Netflix and the second largest streaming service, Amazon Prime Video. Netflix has 208 million subscribers worldwide, while Amazon has 175million worldwide subscribers. All streaming services offer incredible entertainment options. And as the top streaming services have proven, the content they provide is award winning programs featuring A-list celebrities, directors, and production teams. It has become an extremely competitive enterprise.
On April 30, 2021, Amazon Prime Video released an original film titled “Without Remorse” based on the works of Tom Clancy. Amazon has had great success with the Tom Clancy based series “Jack Ryan” starring John Krasinski. “Without Remorse” stars Michael B. Jordan as John Kelly, an elite Navy SEAL seeking revenge for the murder of his wife. Kelly soon finds himself embroiled in a large scale conspiracy. The story is not entirely original, but sure to entertain in its own unique way. What is original about this film, in particular, is the viral marketing campaign Amazon undertook to promote the movie. In today’s ultra saturated content market, viral marketing is crucial. Companies need to rely on celebrities, influencers, and viral news to reach the masses.
Recently a Chinese video sharing company used drones as a viral marketing tactic. They put on a drone light show over the city of Shanghai to celebrate the 1st anniversary of a mobile video game. As the last image of the drone show, the drones formed a scannable QR code that would directly link the many viewers to the app. The drone show was a huge success in real time, and for several weeks after as the viral news of the drone formed QR code made its rounds on the internet. Capitalizing on the novelty and popularity of drones, Amazon used them to promote “Without Remorse” in a completely new way.
Movie premiers are often accompanied by the distribution of “swag bags”, promotional gifts that may be related to the film’s theme. Amazon used the idea of a swag bag via drone delivery to entice viewers to watch “Without Remorse” in record numbers. Over 100 drone deliveries were made in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Paris, Sydney, Mexico City, and more. The drone deliveries featured high tech goodies for celebrities and influencers like Wesley Snipes who Tweeted, “Ssssh…I can’t disclose my location, but I’d like to thank @michaelb4jordan for my special agent package delivered by a drone today! How cool is this?!!” Wesley’s many followers and the countless other followers of those who received drone deliveries, in turn, are influenced to log into Amazon to watch the film.
Drone deliveries are slowly gaining in popularity, something that Amazon has long been promising its customers. Because of the coronavirus, the FAA has eased many of the restrictions on drone use to enable broader delivery options. Amazon made sure that the drone deliveries promoting “Without Remorse” made a full impact while maintaining all FAA rules. “Each of the drone drops [including those for celebs like Lori Harvey, T-Pain, Cedric the Entertainer, Wesley Snipes and Pete Wentz] was treated as an individual production, where our teams pre-arranged the drops in order to follow the legal and safety guidelines for every territory,” said Amazon Chief Marketing Officer Ukonwa Ojo. “And for some territories where air drones were not permitted, ground drones were used instead. We made sure all legal and COVID regulations were followed in order to ensure a fun and safe execution.”
Coupled with the drone promotional stunt, Michael, who is also a producer on the film, joined in with several live streaming events on Twitter and Twitch. “Engaging global audiences across social platforms is a must now in creating that immediate organic word of mouth,” Ojo explained. “Platforms like Twitch and Twitter achieve that feeling of FOMO [Fear Of Missing Out] through their live stream capabilities and global reach to visually engage young and diverse audiences.” It is these young audiences who are the bread and butter for streaming services as they are the primary cord cutters.
The promotional campaign for “Without Remorse” had to reach far and wide to grab the attention of younger audiences that may not be familiar with Tom Clancy’s work. Not only was Amazon trying to recruit younger viewers, but also promoting the groundbreaking change in how a Tom Clancy story is retold with a diverse cast. “Without Remorse” is the first time a Tom Clancy film features two black actors as not only action heroes, but the leads in the film. The drone delivery and viral campaign paid off with the film claiming the top streaming movie for its release weekend, beating out Netflix’s animated family film “The Mitchells vs. the Machines”. For some time now, filmmakers have been using drones to capture perfect shots. Drones have even been major storyline plots in productions. It makes sense that drones are now being used to advertise in the highly competitive field. With the drones and social media engagement, the head of Amazon Studios, Jennifer Salke said the film’s release exceeded Amazon’s expectations. “We are seeing a more diverse audience and first-time streamers connecting with the film,” she said, “as well as already established fans of the Tom Clancy universe.”