Depending on execution, parody can be one of the best or worst ways to get a message across. Today, we've seen examples of both lambasting Amazon Prime Air, the company's new plan to use drones to deliver packages to your door. Twitter reacted with the usual mix of humor, disdain, and nitpicking, while one of Amazon's regional rivals has created a parody video.
Waterstones is one of the UK's largest booksellers, and has unsurprisingly been affected by Amazon's international success. This morning the retailer posted a press release and video informing the world that owls would now be delivering its books thanks to "OWLS.", the "Ornithological Waterstones Landing Service."
The video isn't especially biting — especially when compared to Amazon's recent parody of an iPad ad — and appears to have been put together in good faith. It's also remarkably self-aware; it doesn't attempt to parody the style of Amazon's videos in any way, and the narrator also notes that OWLS. will take years to set up as Waterstones "only thought of it this morning." It's a cute spot, but the basic premise of Waterstones' parody, that Harry Potter-esque owls could deliver items instead of drones, has been around since minutes after the initial announcement.
BREAKING: Etsy to begin delivering packages by barn owl.— Ryan Calo (@rcalo) December 2, 2013
A number of tweets have commented on shooting down and capturing Amazon's drones, but Leon Zandman took that concept and turned it into a reimagining of the classic NES game Duck Hunt. In Zandman's game, the ducks are all replaced by — you guessed it — Amazon Prime Air drones. It's totally janky and quite dumb, but that's why it works so well.
It's almost impossible to mention drones, robots, or anything electronic on the internet without someone making a joke about robot sentience. At least one Twitter user went to all the trouble of creating a fake delivery note for this admittedly clever tweet:
I missed an Amazon drone delivery. pic.twitter.com/neJxYANj6p— B to A to the R R Y (@QuantumPirate) December 2, 2013
As amusing (or unamusing, depending on your tastes) as this first round of reactions may be, they highlight problems that people may have with Amazon's ambitious plan. What happens if someone attacks a drone, or steals its package? What will privacy activists have to say about an army of corporate drones fitted with cameras roaming above our streets? These concerns are often raised in a knee jerk way, but they're concerns that Amazon will nonetheless have to address in time.