The Hunger Games has by now become a pop culture phenomenon the likes of which we have not seen since the days of Harry Potter, and it is already far easier to get your hands on the Kindle Editions. I’m forgetting the Twilight series on purpose here, mostly because I wish I could. Anyway, as with any such popular series, the fans are interested in taking things at their own pace. When those fans primarily interested in the movie versions of the young adult series (or just those who are behind on/late with their reading) are exposed to major plot details relevant to the as-yet unreleased second movie, it is understandably upsetting.
Amazon dropped the ball slightly on this one and ran an ad in the Washington D.C. metro that throws these details up on a billboard for all to see. Meant to highlight the availability of the series on the Kindle and play to up the association with the anticipated second film, the billboard shows off the first page of Mockingjay (Hunger Games Book 3) in plain, easily read text displayed on the screen of a Kindle. Normally this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but Collins opens that book with some fairly key points about the plot that amount to major spoilers for the second book, Catching Fire.
The ad has received huge amounts of attention through Twitter and Facebook, with many expressing disappointment or outrage over Amazon’s carelessness. While understandable, it is hard to get too upset. Many fans might only have recently become familiar with the series thanks to the movies, and might even be exclusively interested in the movie adaptations, but Mockingjay was released in 2010. To expect ongoing self-censorship on a huge scale for years at a time is a great way to be disappointed.
It is unlikely that Harry Potter fans, to re-use the comparison, were able to wait the four years between book release and movie opening before learning about the way Snape and Dumbledore interact in the sixth book of Rowling’s series. If you want to be safe from this kind of exposure, I wish you the best of luck despite the difficulties. The Kindle advertisement in question can be found on the Blue Line of the DC Metro.
Amazon has not responded to any of the inquiries about the unwelcome revelation so far, but the fact that it caught sufficient attention to make people think of the Kindle and The Hunger Games in the same context probably makes this a win for the marketing team. While it would be incredibly bad for the image of the Kindle line in general if this sort of plot spoiler was used as a regular advertising gimmick, one instance is unlikely to be enough for public apologies and the tearing down of a billboard.
Kindle advertisements have often been a little odd, in my opinion. I get that you want to highlight how fun and useful your product is, but when it’s something that facilitates an activity that will almost always take place while the user is immobile and not reacting in any overt fashion, it’s hard to do. Does that mean that the best course of action is to show people running around and dancing while holding it, in a sort of interpretive dance type representation of the feeling to be achieved through use of a Kindle?
Anyway, once again we are given the most obvious, and most Kindle-favorable, visual comparison between the iPad and the Kindle in the form of a situation involving reading in direct sunlight. Not the whole of the commercial this time, but it’s in there as a reminder in case there’s anybody who missed it the first time. Maybe this is a bigger problem than I thought, but do people spend a lot of time reading outside in direct sunlight? I know I enjoy it myself, but it’s just not something I see often. There are so many other factors that could be gone into if the commercial was to emphasize the favorable differences. It’s lighter than the iPad, easier to read on then the iPad, doesn’t have to deal with any ridiculous app store politics like the iPad, etc., etc. I think the whole Kindle vs iPad competition was resolved a while back for the majority of us and the outcome left the iPad unable to live up to its Kindle Killer hype. Also, while we’re on the subject, what was the point of the text informing us of the ease of reading in direct sunlight when we have several seconds of the already short commercial devoted to demonstrating this fact?
Where I do like the effort was in terms of demonstrating options beyond reading in a corner. I think it does a fair job of implying utility in terms of accessing reference material on the fly. At least, that’s all I could come up with when it came to what the actors were doing with their Kindles at any given time as they cavorted. Wouldn’t it have been more effective if that were what was being highlighted in the brief text interjections, though?
That’s all just my rant on the topic though. Honestly, probably the best ad we’ve gotten for the Kindle in a while. I know it got the message across a bit better than the old swimming pool scenario or the Kindle hiding in the random drawer from the last couple I recall. Word is that Amazon has purchased some ad time during the upcoming Oscars, so it’s entirely possible that this one will be airing in a great slot. I only wish that it seemed more likely to get across the features that the Kindle brings to the table. Then again, maybe I’m completely off base on this one. Any thoughts on it?