The Golden Ticket

In September of 2017, Seattle-based mega-corp, Amazon announced its intention to build a second headquarters in North America. At stake, a whopping $5,000,000,000 in construction revenue, along with 50,000 high-paying jobs, and another projected 50,000 ancillary jobs. Suffice to say, the competition to land such a coveted prize has been fierce, and cities have gone all out in their creative endeavors in an attempt to make a lasting impression. Any number of municipalities are a technical fit for Amazon, so it seems marketing may be the factor that edges one over the other. Amazon is looking for some co-branding. They want a city that compliments their own image.

New York City turned their lights orange in a bid to capture attention and gain social media buzz.


Tucson, Arizona went so far as to ship an actual giant cactus to Amazon, and even though the company said it couldn’t accept gifts as part of the selection process, the stunt made an impression.

Perhaps one of the more endearing pitches came from Kansas City, where Mayor Sly James put together a video of himself reviewing products he ordered from Amazon.

What makes all of these pitches unique is their… ummm… uniqueness. Behind closed doors there may be talk of logistics, CBRs, and tax incentives, but to the public, the campaign to land the Golden Ticket, has been one of creative innovation, one that utilizes forward-thinking and non-traditional marketing tactics. In short, it appears as though each of the candidates is offering itself up as fun, slightly-nerdy, tech savvy, and on the pulse – all brand traits Amazon would see in itself, and want in a partner.

The selection process, as well, is a case-study in earned media. Thousands of local TV stations across North America, and the rest of the world, are providing Amazon with free advertising. If you didn’t know what Amazon was before the Christmas holidays, you should know them by now. Further, the contending cities, themselves, have been the recipients of a tonne of great exposure. Even if Amazon doesn’t choose them, they may gain the attention of other potential businesses looking to expand into new cities. What’s clear is the amount of heart and passion going into each and every pitch.

Over 200 cities across North America made bids to lure in Amazon, and as of January 18, the online retailer released its shortlist of 20 finalists. With so much at stake, it’s hard not to want every city to win. “Hey Alexa – which city has the best shot at landing Amazon’s next headquarters?”

She can’t tell us just yet, but Amazon plans on making their final decision later this year.