Amazon Is Using Massive Boxes to Host Live Events

Author: David McMillin       

The e-commerce giant is stepping out from behind the screen with a series of pop-up events to promote its annual Prime Day.

Over the past three years, Amazon’s Jeff Bezos has demonstrated an understanding of the value of face-to-face events at the invitation-only MARS conference. Those events — high-level explorations the future of machine learning, robots, and technology — took place at permanent physical venues. This week, Bezos’ company is leveraging face-to-face experiences again, but the gatherings, which promote Amazon Prime Day, won’t occur at convention centers, hotels, or any traditional four-walled space. Instead, the events will happen in something that’s much closer to home for the retail giant: shipping boxes.

The massive 25-foot boxes are a nod to the promotional messaging behind this year’s celebration: “Get ready to unbox even more than deals.” Jeff Wilke, Amazon’s head of retail, told USA TODAY that the campaign will let people “experience surprise entertainment events unboxed from giant Smile boxes in major cities.”

Those cities include New York, Los Angeles, Tokyo, London, and Milan, and the events will align with the benefits of being a Prime member. While the details for all the events have been kept under wraps, the line-up in London includes an Ant Middleton reading, a Paddington 2 film screening, and a concert performance from Take That. At other locations, it seems like some type of video game competition would make sense, now that Prime members have free access to Twitch, a live-streaming game-enthusiast site (the Twitch logo also happens to be on the box in Amazon’s promo video).

The pop-up events will obviously catch the attention of residents in the five cities, but Amazon also has plans for a hybrid component for the more than 100 million paid members of the Prime program. All the events will be live-streamed at

Amazon’s approach may feel like a publicity stunt to some, but the approach embraces the kind of innovation that gets people watching, talking, and most importantly for Amazon, buying. I’m sure there is a significant price tag for hiring chart-topping artists, coordinating security, broadcasting a live-stream program, and securing the necessary permits to host an event, but Amazon seems poised to earn a sizable return from the cool factor of these events. And while I’m sure the shipping bill for a 25-foot box is fairly high, perhaps Amazon’s next move will involve a method that doesn’t seem that far away for any kind of meeting: using a 3D printer to shape a space.

Interested in learning more about how Amazon might impact the future of events? Click here.

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