Branded drone seen floating through window; fine print in ad tempers expectations.
Amazon’s trend of running multiple, super-short commercials for its voice-activated Echo device continued during Sunday’s broadcast of Super Bowl LI. The last of the company’s three Echo spots included a surprise cameo: an Amazon delivery drone, described to viewers as a “Prime Air” delivery. A suggestive statement, spoken in its devices’ “Alexa” voice, played as the drone appeared: “Look for delivery soon.”
The ad shows a woman frowning at a man who is eating branded tortilla chips, then using her voice to place an order for her snacks of choice—and clarifying that she wants the order “from Prime Air.” Soon afterward, a branded drone is seen hovering just outside a home’s window. At the bottom of the screen, Amazon offers a fine-print disclaimer: “Prime Air is not available in some states (or any really). Yet.”
Amazon’s only publicly announced commercial trial for its drone-delivery service began this past December utilizing a single distribution center in Cambridge, England. How soon those may start in the USA is unclear, however, though the high-profile placement of the hardware in a Super Bowl ad, and its real-world example of how shoppers could easily request it, suggest Amazon is ramping up its efforts. The Federal Aviation Administration approved rules for commercial drone flights in June, but those rules only include approval for “line-of-sight’ drone operation, as opposed to the kind of automated or centralized drone-flight operations required by a shipping center such as Prime Air.