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This Amazon Business Also Had a Politically-Themed Ad During the Oscars

One of Audible's ads during the 2017 Academy Awards on Sunday, featuring actress Claire Danes reading from Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables."One of Audible's ads during the 2017 Academy Awards on Sunday, featuring actress Claire Danes reading from Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables."
One of Audible's ads during the 2017 Academy Awards on Sunday, featuring actress Claire Danes reading from Victor Hugo's "Les Miserables."Screenshot: Amazon/Audible

Amazon was featured prominently at the 89th Academy Awards on Sunday as the producer of the nominated film Manchester by the Sea. The company’s founder and CEO Jeff Bezos even got a shoutout during host Jimmy Kimmel’s monologue with a joke about statuettes being shipped within two business days.

Yet here’s a connection you might have missed: One of the businesses within the vast portfolio of the online juggernaut (AMZN) had two ad spots during the telecast, which turned some heads.

Audible is best known for selling audiobooks as well as offering other online audio content such as podcasts and curated channels, with some exclusive content reserved for Amazon Prime subscribers. It’s not the flashiest of Amazon’s departments, but it stole the spotlight for a few seconds here and there with a few commercials that some viewers see as inspired by and reactionary to the current political climate.

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In one ad, Homeland actress Claire Danes reads a passage from Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, a 19th century novel touching on numerous social themes and class conflicts. In another spot, Star Trek actor Zachary Quinto read from George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, which has surged on bestseller lists since the Inauguration in January and is even going to Broadway as a musical this June.

It’s possible the ads have struck a cord with viewers because they don’t actually make blatant political statements or reference any current politicians by name. Audible lets the excerpts speak for themselves.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WexyX0IZPBY

Many more commercials popped up on Audible’s YouTube (GOOGL) page, featuring celebrated performers reading passages from famous literary works ranging from The Art of War to Wuthering Heights to Harry Potter.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfrUBMz0aJE

But Audible wasn’t alone this weekend with its politically-inspired commercials. The New York Times, for example, aired its first commercial during an Oscars telecast in seven years on Sunday, repeating the phrase “The Truth Is…” as part of a broader brand campaign in retaliation of charges from the Trump administration of publishing “fake news.”