Amazon.co.uk is a subsidiary of the US-based online retailer
Amazon.com. It began life as an independent online store called
Bookpages, established in 1996 and acquired by Amazon.com in 1998. It
began trading in the last quarter of 1998 and its sales for October to
December 1999 were up 400 per cent at pounds 26 million.
Amazon enjoys a high awareness among consumers and it is the UK’s most
visited site for purchases of books and music. The company has recently
introduced a new corporate identity to mark its move from simply selling
books to offering a range of consumer products. In addition to its
catalogue of 1.5 million titles, Amazon’s UK website offers music, DVD,
video, an auction site and a number of net boutiques called Zshops.
On the face of it, high brand awareness and rocketing sales should
result in a rosy future for Amazon. However, the company is accused of
being driven by a US-based strategy that is not suitable for the UK
Its previous marketing director Chris Ketley quit after just four
months, complaining that the company was concentrating on short-term
returns instead of building its brand. Amazon’s advertising has also
been criticised as lacking innovation, being too cryptic and unable to
make the brand stand out in the crowded dotcom market.
Media spend/mix Much of Amazon’s advertising is online, and it does not
yet feature in the list of the UK’s top 200 advertisers. It has been
particularly adept at forging partnerships with portals such as Yahoo!,
which displays a context-relevant Amazon banner every time a user
searches the net.
Amazon spent pounds 3.28 million on traditional advertising in the year
to February 2000. The budget was split fairly evenly between press and
TV but with an appreciable use of radio. Television spend (pounds 1.23
million) was concentrated in November and December 1999, while press
spend (pounds 1.35 million) was spread fairly evenly over the year,
apart from a sharp drop in January and February 2000. Most press spend
was placed in mid-market and quality national newspapers and magazines
such as PC Direct, Computer Active and The Economist. Television
advertising was almost exclusively on terrestrial channels - LWT and
Central accounted for more than half of all TV spend.
Agencies HHCL & Partners holds the creative account, while media is
planned and bought by Total Media. Tom Allchurch is Amazon’s marketing
Predictions Amazon has a difficult task ahead as it seeks to bolster its
current popularity while expanding into new product areas. Although last
year it beat Virgin.net in terms of total visits, it has not adopted the
leadership stance one would have expected.
The coming year will reveal whether Amazon’s surreal creative executions
can successfully fight off competition from rivals such as BOL.com.
Research by AC Nielsen MMS tel: 01344-627553 www.mediamonitoring.com.