This Alabama Agency Made Giant Amazon Dash Buttons to Lure the Ecommerce Giant to Birmingham

Fun out-of-home stunt triggers tweets

Birmingham is trying to show Amazon why it's the perfect city for its second headquarters. Big Communications
Headshot of Lauren Johnson

Amazon is on the hunt for its second headquarters outside of Seattle, which promises to bring an economic boom with 50,000 jobs to one lucky place, and cities are finding creative ways to grab the attention of one of the world’s largest ecommerce giants.

One such location is Birmingham, Ala. The city is launching a creative campaign dubbed “BringAtoB” created by local agency Big Communications this week. The agency built two life-sized buttons that resemble Amazon’s Wi-Fi enabled Dash shopping buttons that allow Amazon Prime users to quickly reorder products like Red Bull, Clorox and Slim Jim products.

Birmingham’s Dash-like buttons are located in two prominent locations around town: upscale food center Pizitz Food Hall and the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Hill Student Center. Using a custom-built feature for Raspberry Pi, a user pushes the button and it spits out programmed tweets that feature facts about the city that are sent to a dedicated Twitter account. Each tweet includes Amazon’s account, with the agency hopeful that the ecommerce giant checks its Twitter mentions regularly.

Ford Wiles, Big’s CCO, originally came up with the campaign as a way for the city to respond to Amazon’s request. After presenting the idea to public and private members of Birmingham’s economic development community, groups including the Birmingham Business Alliance, the cities of Birmingham and Jefferson County and electricity company Alabama Power are now supporting and funding the effort.

Here is a sampling of tweets that BringAtoB has pinged to Amazon’s team over the past few days.

“Our goal was to show that Birmingham mirrors Amazon’s spirit of innovation by creating a simple, experiential way for our community to engage with Amazon,” a rep for Big Communications said in an email. “Our community is full of passionate pioneers, so we enlisted their help in sending a message to Amazon about why Birmingham should be home to its second headquarters. Amazon’s RFP encouraged cities to think big and creative and we wanted to ensure Birmingham was at the top of that list.”

In addition to the Dash buttons, the agency has also installed giant Amazon boxes around the city, encouraging consumers to share pictures of the boxes on social media to grab Amazon’s attention.

Within Alabama, Birmingham is competing with Huntsville for Amazon’s business and Jackson County is also recently home to a $600 million Google data center.

In addition to new jobs, Amazon’s upcoming headquarters will also come with $5 million in capital expenditures, according to an RFP issued by Amazon.

The RFP lists a few criteria that Amazon is looking for in a city for its second headquarters, including a city with more 1 million residents located in either an urban or suburban area that can attract tech talent. Between 2010 and 2016, Amazon estimates that it’s pumped $38 billion in Seattle’s economy. Other cities making a hard push for Amazon’s office include Tuscon, Ariz.; Chicago and Philadelphia.

@laurenjohnson Lauren Johnson is a senior technology editor for Adweek, where she specializes in covering mobile, social platforms and emerging tech.