retail news in context, analysis with attitude

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Hi, Kevin Coupe here, and this FaceTime with the Content Guy.

A new national advertising campaign for Amazon's Kindle Paperwhite e-reader is yet more evidence of how much the world has changed, and how retailers may want to think differently about the consumers they are trying to attract into their stores.

The setup is simple.

There's a hot woman in a bikini and and a good looking guy at a resort. The woman is reading a book on a Kindle Paperwhite, while the guy is using what appears to be an iPad. She's having no problem, but he can't make out the words because of the reflection. (This is, by the way, an enormous shortcoming of the iPad.)

They talk about the two products, and he orders a Kindle online. Then, he suggests that they should celebrate ... and she points out, not unkindly, that her husband has gone to the bar and is bringing her a drink. He smiles: "So is mine."

You can see the commercial here.

The thing is, there are, in addition to the District of Columbia, nine states where same-sex marriage is legal. I have no idea whether it will become legal in all 50 states, but it certainly can be said that momentum and many public opinion polls seem to be on the side of same-sex marriage.

What this commercial does, experts say, is bring a conversation that is going on in much of America into the light, and making it mainstream.

Amazon, by being in the lead, will accrue a lot of brand equity because of this commercial. You don't think that there are plenty of gay people around the country who are seeing this ad and thinking to themselves,"Wow...a company that is speaking not just about me, but to me."

In addition, the ad speaks to people for whom gay marriage is a non-issue. One expert says that what is important about this ad is that it shows gay marriage in a clear yet incidental way.

Amazon's entire value proposition, since the company began almost 20 years ago, has been that it sees an American shopper that nobody else sees, and that it will provide a retailing experience that nobody else provides.

In this commercial, it seems to me, Amazon has done that yet again.

To be sure, the company is hardly alone. Other companies, such as Gap and Crate & Barrel, have featured gay couples in ads and catalogs.

Some day, I think, such ads will be commonplace, and we'll have gotten to a place where commenting on them will be unnecessary.

But for the moment, I think it is important for marketers to look at the Amazon ad and think about what it says not just about the country, but about their customers. We don;t live in an "Ozzie & Harriet" world anymore ... it is a lot more like "Modern Family," filled with people who are diverse and divergent in terms of attitudes, preferences and orientations.

For me, it makes me want to buy a Kindle Paperwhite in time to go to the beach this summer. Some people will respond to the ad by swearing that they'll never again do business with Amazon.

But here's the thing. I think the number of people who feel that way are dwindling ... and that there are a lot more people like me than them.

It is good business to pay attention.

That's what is on my mind this Thursday morning. As always, I want to hear what is on your mind.

KC's View: