A report in the National Enquirer indicated Amazon’s Super Bowl plans this year might include Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda and founder Jeff Bezos’ spaceflight company Blue Origin. Instead, it will follow in the footsteps of its 2018 hit and relies on celebrity muscle to tout a presumably faux Amazon Beta Testing Program.
“Amazon recruited some famous friends to test new Alexa technologies,” the ecommerce giant says on a page dubbed, “All Things Alexa.” It calls this Beta Testing Program, “a top-secret division.”
In blue-hued futuristic teasers superimposed with code a la The Net or The Matrix, celebrities like Harrison Ford, Forest Whitaker, Ilana Glazer, Abbi Jacobson and astronauts Mark and Scott Kelly open padded briefcases and hear an automated voice welcome them to this program. (It also notes they have “Security Clearance 3,” whatever that means.)
A rep confirmed the teasers are for a national ad during the game, but declined to share any other specifics. (The site also says, “Not everything makes the cut,” but it’s unclear what that means.)
However, Amazon’s star-studded Super Bowl ad last year, which included Cardi B, Gordon Ramsey, Rebel Wilson and Sir Anthony Hopkins as Alexa replacements, was one of the overall favorites.
This comes at a time when competition among virtual assistants is fierce. During the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, Amazon nemesis Google enlisted an incomparable lineup of female comedians to host a dinner party interlaced with Google Assistant, which, at the very least, was a savvy move prior to Black Friday.
Amazon has not disclosed how many Echos have been sold to date, but Bezos’ 2017 letter to shareholders said, “Customers bought tens of millions.” Research firms estimated it’s about 30 million devices for Amazon and 14 million for Google—at least as of the end of 2017. Amazon had a headstart—it released Echo in 2015 versus Home in 2016—but a recent report showed Google is gaining market share.
At the end of the day, this is likely why Amazon is once again offering up Alexa in front of such a huge audience. However, time will tell if these celebrities—and this top-secret program—are enough to best competing assistants.