Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Rainn Wilson Says Amazon’s New Kindle Commercial Looks Too Familiar

As consumer tech commercials go, Amazon’s newest spot for its Kindle line isn’t that exciting. Like most Amazon consumer tech commercials, it is light on sizzle, heavy on people describing the product’s specs and features.

This time, the people doing the talking are supposedly “real people,” sitting on a couch in front of New York’s Flatiron building.

No big deal, right? Not so, says actor Rainn Wilson, who you know as Dwight from NBC’s “The Office.”

Wilson is also one of the guys behind SoulPancake, a not-so-easy-to-describe “platform” for discussion about spirituality and positivity and creativity and stuff. They have a (Google-funded) YouTube channel, too. And Wilson says Amazon based its commercial on one of their videos:


I’ve (sort of sheepishly) asked the Amazon folks for comment. I assume they’ll get back to me right after they finish up that press release which details exactly how many Kindles they’ve sold to date.

In the meantime, some not-very-involved sleuthing will turn up other examples of people who have filmed people sitting on couches on the street.

Last year, someone named Kristian Reimer, for instance, produced four of these. Though it’s possible that the Amazon folks or their ad agency never saw them, because they appear to have generated fewer than 350 views prior to today.

And, as Josh Bonnar points out, the concept has shown up in commercials before. Here’s one from Kleenex, featuring tears, hugs and a Goo Goo Dollsy soundtrack:

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work