Exciting New Kindle TV Ads!

Screenshot from new Amazon Kindle TV ad - The Book Lives On

This is pretty exciting. Amazon just released a new ad for the Kindle — and this one’s in a radically new style! According to YouTube, the ad’s video has been viewed less than 2,000 times, so this is your chance to be one of the first people to see it. To view the ad, point your PC’s web browser to YouTube.com/Kindle.

The ad’s official title is “The Book Lives On,” and it’s clearly aimed at younger audiences. The ad shows young people enjoying their Kindles — in a coffee shop, on the grass, while lying outdoors in the city, or jogging past a lake. It only shows the new graphite-colored Kindle — not the older white ones — and it features a much edgier song by a band called “The New Pornographers”. (They’re a hip, indie band from Canada, and the song — “Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk” — is from their newest album, which was just released last May.)

I had to laugh. A technology blog had cheered Amazon’s previous television ad by saying that Amazon “is done with the silly flame war. The latest Kindle ads make no mention of the iPad or any competitor really. Instead, they simply show off the Kindle‚Äôs two main selling points – portability and content.” That truce is apparently over, since even in this 30-second montage, Amazon includes several scenes showing that the iPad owner isn’t able to read in bright sunlight — while the Kindle owners can. (“No glare,” Amazon flashes on the screen. “Easy to read in bright sunlight…”) The other selling points are that the Kindle holds
800,000 books, is lighter than a paperback, and has a battery life of up to a month. “The book lives on…” the ad concludes.

By saying “the book lives on,” Amazon seems to be trying to give a positive spin to the worry that digital readers will kill the book. The song’s enthusiastic rock pulse, with its steady electric guitars in the background, suggests excitement and optimism. You could read the ad as a manifesto, announcing that the next generation will continue reading — but they’ll do it using Kindles. But take a closer look, and it looks more like Amazon is really trying to advertise a revolution that hasn’t happened yet.

In November a survey found that the Kindle was least popular among young people. Between the ages of 25 to 34, just 5.8% of the people surveyed had said the owned a Kindle — and just 6.5% of the people between the ages of 18 and 34. (For the 35-44 range, Kindle ownership was at 8.5%, and at 8.3% for the next age range of 45-54 years old.) Surprisingly, the highest percentage of Kindle ownership was people over the age of 65 — at 9.6% — as well as people under the age of 18, at 11.1%. Maybe young people have less disposable cash for an ebook-reader — or they’re more interested in color/touch screens. But whatever the reason, Amazon is clearly trying to address that “enthusiasm” gap with this ad.

But it’s always fascinating to study Amazon’s ad campaigns, and watch them trying to capture the mystique of the Kindle. Once I got to YouTube, I even began watching other Kindle ads that I hadn’t seen yet. There’s one where a little boy tells his grandma what book he wants for a Christmas gift. (“Mayan temples. Or race cars. Or spelunking… Or martians. Or any kind of alien, really…”) And there was another ad for Christmas in the same style as Amazon’s first ads — including a new soft piano-and-vocal song by Little & Ashley, this time with sleighbells. (“Snowflake in my pocket, let’s take a sleigh ride on the ice…”) It’s the same young blonde woman in this ad, but this time the stop-motion animation shows her wearing parkas with her boyfriend, fishing by an igloo, and then dressed us as a ballerina (while her boyfriend is the soldier from the Nutcracker ballet).

Of course, it’s possible to read too much into the commercials. I’ve been a fan for 11 years of the band that did the song in Amazon’s current ad, “The New Pornographers.” But I’ve never been sure what their lyrics are about — and this latest song is no exception. The lyrics from the song snippet that Amazon selected also apply nicely to the Kindle. (“Silhouette, tell me a tall tale, go. Shout it out… Sweet talk, sweet talk…”)

But the rest of the song — well, not so much!


A mistake on the part of nature,
You’re so fair and so fey that you’ll sit anywhere.
I’ve pencil sketched the scene.
It’s feeling Byzantine.

Mistakes on the part of nature,
The living proof of what they’re calling love,
On certain sideway streets
Where things that don’t match meet.

A mistake on the part of nature,
You are a tall glass, a blast from the past.
Yeah, things were simpler then.
You ask exactly when.

A mistake on the part of nature.
It’s forgiven. Move on.
Won’t wear my Sunday suit to walk that street.
That would feel Byzantine.

Silhouette, tell me a tall tale, go,
Shout it out.
Silhouette, shout it from the top,
Sweet talk, sweet talk.
Your sweet talk, sweet talk.

Amnesia becomes ambition.
Ambition becomes a new sort of
Charming simplicity,
Like always, Byzantine.

A mistake on the part of nature.
It’s forgiven. Move on.
Won’t wear my Sunday suit to walk that street.
That would feel Byzantine.

Silhouette, tell me a tall tale, go
Shout it out.
Silhouette, shout it from the top.
Sweet talk, sweet talk.
Your sweet talk, sweet talk…

Silhouette, tell me a tall tale, go
Shout it out.
Silhouette, shout it from the top.
Sweet talk, sweet talk
Your sweet talk, sweet talk.

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