Lights, Camera, Amazon

Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN  ) is going back to the movies. Today, the online retailing behemoth said it will host a second competition that allows Amazon.com shoppers to vote for their favorite short film submissions, with a $50,000 prize at stake.

Amazon will once again partner with the Tribeca Film Festival and American Express (NYSE: AXP  ) for its online film festival. Letting customers do the judging is a natural fit with Amazon's emphasis on product ratings, which have provided a nice value-add for shoppers.

Fool contributor Brian Gorman covered Amazon's first film competition last holiday season. He quite rightly pointed out that companies are coming up with creative uses for broadband capabilities to gain customers' attention and loyalty.

I've found it interesting to ponder the ways that advertising and marketing are changing in our current age of interactivity. It's been said (ad nauseum) that technologies like TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) make it easy to skip through commercials. On the flip side of that notion, a truly entertaining or unique advertisement tempts viewers to rewind, not fast-forward.

My friends say they're shocked and a little appalled that some of the musical preferences providing the backdrop for recent commercials so closely mirrors their own. The Ramones on a Pepsi (NYSE: PEP  ) commercial? Sure, it's weird and a bit contradictory, but I can't say I ever mind hearing "Blitzkrieg Bop." I recently read that Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iTunes now has a section dedicated to songs featured in TV commercials. It's a new spin on an old idea; songs or jingles that become hits through their appearance in ads are successes for the advertisers as well.

Further along the same lines, consumer-products giant Procter & Gamble (NYSE: PG  ) recently signaled a shift toward product placement over conventional TV ads. The move highlights customers' new ability to, yes, skip past commercials, as well as advertisers' determination to get their plugs in front of viewers no matter what. It could be a risky move, since excessive or heavy-handed product placement can drive customers away.

It's sometimes disconcerting to think of all the ways that marketing and advertising can drill down into our everyday lives, in ways that are both more subtle and more brash than ever before. But for companies seeking a larger or more loyal audience, it's hard to deny the human appetite for distraction, diversion, and delight. Amazon seems to know that these days, new and different forms of entertainment may be one of the best ways to win customers' love.

Amazon.com and TiVo areMotley Fool Stock Advisorpicks. To learn more about Tom and David Gardner's favorite stocks, click here.

AlyceLomax did not own a financial position in any of the companies mentioned at the time of publication.


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