Marketing Lessons from Amazon’s Laugh-Aloud Commercial for Feminists
Amazon Prime & Rapunzel
Was Amazon’s New Ad Targeting Me?
When was the last time you laughed out loud when you saw a commercial?
It happened to me today, a commercial so perfectly executed to hit my funny bone and my belief system that when I saw it, I laughed out loud. Not a smile or a tiny chuckle, but a loud guffaw, unbidden and unexpected.
It started out innocently enough. Rapunzel sitting in the window of the castle, and then the line,
“Once upon a time, there was a princess with really long hair who was waiting for a prince to come save her….”
I barked at the television, “Yeah, right!” because that statement yanked my feminist chain. (Ignore the ridiculousness of me talking back to the t.v., an inanimate object that couldn’t even hear me.)
But the commercial quickly continued, and Rapunzel — like me — reacted negatively to the old-fashioned suggestion that she was waiting for a prince to save her, remarking,
“Not really. Who wants to wait for that?”
In rapid-fire succession, Rapunzel orders a long ladder from Amazon Prime, climbs down, and runs off to town to begin a thriving hairdressing empire.
I laughed with delight. Rapunzel used her resourcefulness, her unique traits, her independence, her drive, and her vision to succeed. All the traits of notable entrepreneurs.
Rapunzel, however, had a little extra help from Amazon Prime.
Amazon Prime’s Advertisement: YouTube
“Because Prime changes everything.”
Collaboration of Many Minds
Amazon has an in-house creative team that helped with the launch of the Rapunzel ad. They also collaborated with Joint-London, an agency that was founded by Damon Collins and Richard Exon, former executives of RKCR/Y&R, “the nation’s [Britain’s’] favorite advertiser.” Collins and Exon teamed up with Nic Upton and Lori Meekin, two other experienced marketers.
Joint-London’s goal was:
“to work with anyone of any scale to get the right answer. Being lean gives you flexibility and the ability to shape-shift — we will be able to operate at a speed that is fit for purpose in today’s market.”
Amazon’s own creative team and Joint-London also paired with Hungry Man, an internationally-known film and tv production company voted by the Cannes Advertising Film Festival Palm D’Or as one of the top ten production companies in the world, ten years in a row.
The collaboration of these entities produced an ad that is getting lots of attention. It’s too early to have analytics that prove its effectiveness, but I have to think that if it works on an aging feminist like me, it will work on millions of other women, too. If so, there are lessons to be learned from Amazon’s laugh-aloud commercial for feminists.
Lessons for Marketers Who Want to Get It Right
In a time when everything seems serious, from wildfires and drought devastating the West to seeing the realities of climate change… In an era of divisiveness and doubt, worry and changing workplaces, Amazon hit the perfect pitch. They described its Rapunzel ad as
“a confident, self-aware, and light-hearted look at how Prime enables positive change in a fantastic way.”
No doubt about it. Most people long for positive change.
The Amazon ad is a video, a definite visual medium, but whether you’re doing a video, a radio script, a print ad, a formal flier, or a social media post, the lessons of marketing evident in the Rapunzel ad will increase the success of your work.
Any time you can turn something on its head, do it.
Taking the traditional fairy tale of Rapunzel and turning it around so that she isn’t a passive wallflower waiting around for a man is a compelling rewrite of a classic story.
Marketers, take note. Is there an iconic picture, an oft-repeated line, a well-known fable, a masterpiece of artwork that you can modify to make your point?
Using something that is already recognizable to most people puts you a step ahead. Your audience will have an understanding of what you’re saying, and they’ll have pre-conceived ideas that you can disrupt. Disruption leads to impact. Your audience will notice you.
Since Rapunzel’s most unique trait was her long hair, it only seems right that she would develop a business around it. Amazon cleverly creates “Rapunzel’s,” a beautiful salon filled with ladies in all styles of long-hair-coiffure.
If you watch closely, you see that all the clients sitting under the hairdryers are reading magazines that flaunt Rapunzel’s story, including the literary allusion: “Rapunzel: Rags to Riches.” Humorous touch.
Pay close attention. The voiceover asks, “And the prince?”
While Rapunzel delivers her punchline, we see that she’s a very smart, very resourceful businesswoman. (Watch what’s going on in the background.) Not only does Rapunzel cater to the long-locked beauties like her, she creates a second revenue stream from the “falls,” “wigs” and hair extensions that she sells to the unfortunate short-haired people who want to be in the in-crowd.
Create a great tagline
I would love to know how many taglines Amazon’s team came up with and what the other contenders were. Anyone who’s ever designed a campaign knows that you often have to create dozens of taglines to find the right one.
Who knows? Amazon’s creative team and the people they worked with might have come up with a hundred choices, but this one won.
“Amazon changes everything” is great. It’s short. It’s memorable. It’s meaningful. In three words, it states their vision for the future with power and pith.
Try it. Creating taglines that work is an art form in itself, definitely not as easy as it sounds.
Know your customer
If you’re a marketer, you understand the phrase, “ideal client.” Find out who your main audience is and target it.
Amazon Prime’s biggest audience is 20–29-year-olds, with 82% buying into the subscription because of its convenience and its special deals. The majority of Amazon shoppers are women. A study by First Insight, Inc. found that 60% of women surveyed shopped online with Amazon. Only 46% of the men did.
When a young, independent woman like Rapunzel changes the expected outcome of the story and creates a successful business, the youthful, female gets it. The impact is huge.
Amazon Prime’s appeal hits all age groups. Eighty-one percent of all 30–49 year-olds belong to Amazon Prime. Even the older population belongs to Prime with 64% of the 70–79 age group pay the Prime monthly subscription fee.
Thus the real genius of the Rapunzel ad. It may be targeted to the twenty-somethings, but the video appeals to ALL ages, including the 76% of my age group, 60–69, who also subscribe to Prime.
Who doesn’t value the dream of bucking the system, breaking free, following a dream, and finding success?
Award-winning teacher, entrepreneur, and writer. Marketing manager in the HVAC and Plumbing industries. Author of The Magic of Ordinary, a memoir of a "Daddy," his daughters, and the power of one good man to change the world.