It's hard to imagine what all those retailers disrupted by Amazon's eBooks and Kindle tsunami must think when they see the company building brick and mortar stores. This has been a big topic in this blog in recent days – the importance of being physically present, especially in local communities.
Those brick and mortar retail outlets, called AmazonBooks, are not just your run-of-the-mill bookstores. They're a reminder that even the world's largest etailer realizes the value of eye contact with consumers. And now with the acquisition of Whole Foods, Amazon is doubling down on the value of having a community presence.
But it gets even more interesting because now Amazon is stealing a page from radio. In at least 25 big cities across America, Amazon is rolling out a fleet of Treasure Trucks, featuring great deals and loaded with other attractions. The first of these vehicles rolled out in Seattle, and now metros including Atlanta, San Francisco, Boston, and Orlando are part of the rolling Amazon armada. (The full list is below.)
The FAQ page on their site details how this street promotion works. Of course, it's digitally infused. Using a smartphone, consumers can take advantage of deep discounts – and even find out about current offers via text.
And not surprisingly, the Treasure Truck program has its own Facebook and Twitter pages – a way to weave in social media and a sense of community while building the brand.
— Treasure Truck (@treasuretruck) September 5, 2017
At a time when many radio companies view the station van as an old school afterthought – or even perhaps an unnecessary expense – Amazon's commitment to a ground game is impressive. And now that they're moving into Brick & Mortar, this new commitment to Rubber & Metal featuring the Treasure Truck concept is noteworthy. In fact, thanks to technology, these rolling billboards and cash registers for Amazon are a clever way to gain local presence in an environment where most global digital brands struggle.
Apple, Google, Pandora, Spotify, and even Microsoft might use outdoor advertising – something you routinely see in major metropolitan areas – but only Amazon is borrowing the radio station van concept, while breathing new life into it.
Amazon is even soliciting volunteers with outdoor spaces the Treasure Truck can use as pickup locations. According to Engadget, in much the same way ice cream trucks attracted attention by making the rounds through streets and neighborhoods, Amazon's rather old-fashioned looking vehicles have a new twist. They feature trip giveaways, free Ben & Jerry's ice cream, and even oyster shucking lessons.
And unlike radio station vans, there's no prize wheel or bumper stickers to hand out. Amazon is thinking more along the lines of on-the-scene showbiz, entertaining and amazing the locals wherever their Treasure Trucks appear.
Some U.S. broadcasters still view the station vehicle as a way to make a four-wheel brand statement – a local, rolling representative of the station that listeners would love to take a ride in. But other companies have given up on these vehicles as fashion or image statements. Oftentimes, they view station vehicles as depreciating money suckers requiring insurance, fuel, maintenance, and other expenses that only muddy the bottom line.
In Europe, they take their station vehicles very seriously, understanding how these bigger-than-life vehicles can serve as rolling brand ambassadors. When I was in Dublin at Radiodays Europe a few years back, the convention center was teeming with impressive mobile studios that were attractive and compelling to consumers young and old.
Here in the U.S., radio station vans often look a little tired. Or worse, they just collect dust, taking up parking spaces in the station's parking lot or garage. Too many are dirty, poorly maintained, or simply used as utility haulers, going back and forth between the station and the mind-numbing number of sales promotions.
There's often no geographic/promotional strategy in place because many think station vans are passé and dated.
Something tells me Jeff Bezos would beg to differ with you.
The full list of metros with Treasure Trucks:
Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Denver, Houston, Indianapolis, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis-St. Paul, Nashville, New York, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Portland, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, and Tampa
Jacobs Media has consistently walked the walk in the digital space, providing insights and guidance through its well-read national Techsurveys.
In 2008, jacapps was launched - a mobile apps company that has designed and built more than 1,200 apps for both the Apple and Android platforms. In 2013, the DASH Conference was created - a mashup of radio and automotive, designed to foster better understanding of the "connected car" and its impact.
Along with providing the creative and intellectual direction for the company, Fred consults many of Jacobs Media's commercial and public radio clients, in addition to media brands looking to thrive in the rapidly changing tech environment.
Fred was inducted into the National Radio Hall of Fame in 2018.