Amazon Prime Video launches Christmas ad for smiling hyena to stand out from Amazon
Amazon Prime Video went solo in Europe with a separate Christmas ad campaign from Amazon for the first time. Helen Cowley, Marketing Director for Amazon Prime Video EU, explains why.
For its first solo Christmas commercial separate from Amazon’s global brand, Amazon Prime Video EU stuck to the industry-established formula – a minimalist cover of a classic song (Nat King Cole’s Smile performed by Joy Crookes) and a unity story starring a CGI Sidekick. But it is not without subversion. As Amazon and Lucky Generals have told a touching story of cuteness, written by none other than Adele, Amazon Prime Video worked with Spanish agency CYW to get audiences to fall in love with a snarling hyena called Hattie.
The plot is familiar but strange. From her zoo enclosure, Hattie becomes addicted to television and is therefore sidelined by her peers. She moves in with zoo keeper Carl, who just wants a buddy to watch TV with. Our fluffy Christmas mascot bares its teeth several times – she smiles or scolds. This adds a much needed tension that other saccharin works lack.
The hero movie lasts a good two minutes, but will increase to 60 and 30 seconds if necessary.
Helen Cowley, chief marketing officer at Amazon Prime Video EU, told The Drum that the Christmas ad grew out of their “Every Smile Tells a Story” brand campaign. “The idea germinated quickly. We realized it was a pretty timeless story about how people come together. And it seemed opportune.
The announcement was directed by Chris Balmond (behind the famous Guinness “Welcome Back” spot), designed by CYW and produced by Blur Films. SFX Specialists The Mill brought Hattie to life, accompanied by Ballad’s sometimes unsettling sound design (hyena laughs is disturbing, but that’s not Hattie’s fault, is it?)
Cowley says, “CYW had a ton of passion and had the nugget of the idea.” Meanwhile, in post-production, the main character depended on the work of around 80 people to come to life. “Animators around the world have worked to make it real. “
Last year, due to the pandemic, some advertisers chose to bet on CGI when in-person shoots proved difficult. This year, many have opted for real-world shoots with main CGI characters merged around the world (including John Lewis and McDonald’s). This process can be stressful, building scenes around characters who are not on set.
Cowley says: “It can be nerve-racking at times. It takes real time to build and develop. We feel the body very rudimentary at the beginning but it takes a long time to animate. Working with an Oscar-winning team alleviates some of those sleepless nights, she adds.
Meanwhile, pet owners will find the scenes familiar, settling down on the couch to watch a show with their pooch. As a result, Prime Video will donate £ 100,000 to Pets As Therapy, a UK charity that works with volunteers and their therapeutic pets.
This is a change in European strategy at Amazon. In the UK, the Prime subscription costs £ 79 per year or £ 7.99 per month. Prime Video is one of the biggest perks of the deal, but it’s also a standalone video product in fierce competition with Netflix and Disney +. A successful campaign will be additive and help drive a significant amount of Amazon purchases throughout the Christmas period. This is a pan-European ad launch, so there isn’t a lot of spoken dialogue which lends itself well to localization.
Cowley makes the difference. “Amazon will have a great global campaign, while Prime Video will really focus on the stories we need to tell and showcase the great content we have on our service.”
Video plays “a very important part of Christmas” and Prime Video needed the platform to present its offer.
Watch Amazon’s “Kindness, The Best Gift” global ad below, or check out all of the best Christmas ads here.