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The Amazon Propaganda Machine Is Firing On All Cylinders

Amazon's use of Terry Crews is the latest in its efforts to manipulate people into believing that it doesn't deserve a tarnished reputation.

Terry Crews visits an Amazon warehouse in a TikTok ad promoting Amazon jobs.
Screenshot via bigblackjacobin/Twitter and Amazon/TikTok; Remix by Samantha Grasso

Scroll through enough of TikTok and you are bound to come upon some kind of advertisement for Amazon. The video app proved to be an ideal breeding ground for the tech behemoth early on in the pandemic, with users leaning into an entire video genre dedicated to talking about useful or fun Amazon purchases, despite the extreme conditions workers were protesting at the time.

Now, with the holiday season rearing its ugly head once again, Amazon has upgraded its advertising game, trading in TikTok influencers for someone significantly more famous and potentially more influential. Amid the Great Resignation and the formation of another Amazon warehouse union effort in Staten Island, Amazon wants its future seasonal employees to know that working for Amazon is a breeze! Don’t believe them? Just ask newly-minted Amazon spokesperson Terry Crews.

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In what appears to be a new series of TikTok advertisements for Amazon, Crews walks his audience through an entertaining day in the life of an Amazon warehouse employee. He’s opening boxes, playing with rubber ducks, talking to employees about the company’s tuition program, flexing his muscles to talk about “flexible hours.” We’re all having fun!

The advertisements, first flagged by Vice reporter Edward Ongweso Jr, all radiate the same kind of energy — I’m Terry Crews, and we’re at Amazon, where people get paid a lot of money by the hour and there are also a few neat benefits that sound nice at first glance but more importantly can’t you see what a joy it is to work here?

Never mind the warehouse workers who exposed Amazon for its lacking personal protective equipment and COVID safety protocols, or had their “hero” pay raises cut just months into the pandemic, or tried to unionize in Bessemer, Alabama, earlier this year. Here are some rubber ducks! Isn’t that nice? I do have to wonder if the company’s next round of TikTok ads will show Crews carrying multiple packages door to door, dressed up as some sort of Amazon Santa, or is that not enough to dress up the task of running between delivery vans and doorsteps all day with little time to pee?

Regardless of just how unashamed Amazon’s new advertising is, it’s unsurprising. The company knows it has a public relations problem, after all.

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Crews’ ads immediately reminded me of a partnership video that Dallas-based influencer Quenlin Blackwell did with Amazon earlier this year, posted amid the warehouse union vote in Bessemer. In her video, Blackwell also ran around a fulfillment center, asking employees how much they liked working at Amazon. A quick perusal of the hashtag on the video, #amazonpartner, reveals an unknown number of partnership videos with more than 80 million collective views, all promoting Amazon-sold products, Prime memberships, or its warehouses.

@quenblackwell

I BROKE INTO AN AMAZON FUFILLMENT CENTER. *sike* I was invited to an @amazon fufillment center to spend an amazing day there #amazonpartner

♬ original sound – quenblackwell

Of course, it is grosser to see Amazon employing a rich, famous person like Crews to convince the workers to the world that Amazon is not the big bad boss that the media claims it to be, and that if a paid actor like he can find happiness while running chaotically around the warehouse floor, so can you. But to me it feels all the worse knowing that the audience these TikTok ads are directed toward have already been, no pun intended, primed, for years at this point, to champion Amazon as a bringer of joy and relief and entertainment during the darkness of the pandemic.

Amazon knows it has the new wave of worker militancy and another potential union PR train wreck to contend with ahead of its busiest shopping season of the year, and its deployment of Crews to drum up excitement about the company is just the latest in its efforts to manipulate customers, and future employees, into believing that it doesn’t deserve such a tarnished reputation.