In the years immediately before Covid-19 sidelined the global advertising festival in Cannes, Amazon kept a low-key presence at the annual gathering of ad and tech people. While staffers booked rooms at the iconic Carlton Hotel to meet with clients, they were so conscious of overspending that one year two senior employees shared a room, according to two people familiar with the matter.
Things have changed. At this year’s festival, the first in-person since 2019, Amazon has gone all out, buying the biggest promotional space on the French Riviera and relabeling it “Amazon Port.” On one night of the festival, the band LCD Soundsystem played to Amazon VIPs and ad clients; a sign saying “You had me at rosé!” swung in the background. The weeklong marketing campaign stunned industry insiders, who likened the showy display to a “coming-out” party for Amazon in the world of advertising.
Amazon is now an advertising behemoth, generating $31 billion a year in ad revenue, making it the third biggest digital ad seller after Meta Platforms and Alphabet’s Google. It has expanded from selling just search ads on Amazon’s storefront to TV spots on its Freevee video-streaming unit and even on its mostly ad-free Prime Video service, where Amazon has exclusive rights to stream NFL games on Thursday nights. But even as Amazon expands its ad efforts, it has been dealing with an exodus of staff, including many with more than five years of experience at the company.