Amazon Gets ‘Despicable’ with Shipping Box Ads

July 07, 2015

(photo via has started selling ads on their boxes. Whether you think the move is savvy or “despicable”, the message is clear: Packaging is a powerful way to communicate with your audience.

Last year we wrote in our “No More Brown Box” white paper about how packaging is valuable real estate for B2B companies. Amazon must have been paying attention, because it has adopted our philosophy for B2C companies. (We’ll gladly take payment for the inspiration in the form of complementary Amazon Prime subscriptions!)

The e-commerce giant has partnered with Universal Pictures and Illumination Entertainment to create delivery boxes for the upcoming film Minions, the third installment in the Despicable Me franchise. The yellow boxes feature several of the movie’s animated “minion” characters along with some simple promotional messaging. The boxes also spotlight, which features a wide variety of Minions merchandising.

This is the first time that Amazon—or any other major e-commerce company—has sold third-party ads on its boxes. Buying ads on packages is a smart new move for advertisers, but it could be a risk for the ad sellers. New revenue is great, but it might irritate your customers who don’t appreciate that you’ve sold your box to the highest bidder. If shipping boxes become a common advertising platform, businesses will need to weigh the pros and cons and select their advertisers wisely.

Testing this with a family-friendly brand like Minions, which hits theaters on July 10, was a smart choice for Amazon. Seriously, who can get upset at Bob, Stuart and Kevin?!

Amazon is making the boxes in a variety of sizes — Stuart on large boxes, Bob on medium ones and Kevin on small ones — in order to accommodate a variety of customer orders. The company has not yet said if it will sell third-party ads again in the future. (Spoiler: It probably will.)

Your packaging is hot property. Whether you realize it or not, your packaging says something about your brand. If you aren’t intentional with it, your customer will react like this.

If you’re purposeful with your packaging’s branding potential, your customer will see your packaging and react like this.

Contact Ernest today to determine how your packaging tells your brand’s story and how to get people excited about your packaging’s story.