The battle to prove which city would be the ideal home for Amazon’s HQ2 has been, perhaps, the most compelling business story of the past few months. We suspect that the matter will ultimately be settled when Jeff Bezos assembles the mayors of twenty of America’s most important cities into an arena for a televised, pay-per-view battle that leaves one blood-soaked civic leader—their teeth filed into sharp points—left standing before the Amazon founder and CEO. But nonetheless, it’s fun to speculate on other factors (public transit, culture fit, qualified labor pool) that might play into the decision.
We also suspect that Amazon is planting Easter eggs for us to obsess over. For example: have you seen Amazon’s Super Bowl commercial released on Wednesday? It offers proof as definitive as any that Austin—one of the two Texas cities named finalists for HQ2—will end up as the victor.
“In Austin, it’s sixty degrees, with a cha—” Amazon’s Alexa says right at the top of the commercial. She’s interrupted with a cough, which sets up the rest of the bit—Alexa, apparently, has lost her voice. But don’t be distracted by the star-studded cast of Alexa’s replacements (another, we think irresponsible, speculation is that the actual point of the commercial is that users will be able to change Alexa’s voice in the near future)—it’s a big ol’ clue, as far as we’re concerned. Alexa didn’t announce the temperature in Indianapolis, Newark, Atlanta, or Dallas. Furthermore, the feminized robo-voice’s cough is a clear indication that she’s suffering from the interminable outbreak of cedar fever. That doesn’t usually hit visitors—you need a critical mass of the noxious pollen in your body before it starts affecting you—which indicates that Alexa, like Amazon, is here long-term.
It goes on. In one of the ad’s starkest moments, a man asks Alexa to play country music. It’s possible that is meant to indicate that Nashville is a rising star on the HQ2 finalist list, but we know better. Austin and Nashville have long been frenemies in the music business, but these days, even the Nashville industry’s institutional monument to itself has come to recognize that Austin is at the center of one of the genre’s most transcendent moments. That’s three points for Austin in one ninety-second ad.
Furthermore, there’s a sequence in which Anthony Hopkins drops in as the voice of Alexa while surrounded by peacocks.
Peacocks, of course, have a notable history in Austin. They strut around at Mayfield Park in Northwest Austin, as well as South Austin’s Green Pastures. Every so often you’ll catch one off of MoPac. Visitors to the city’s Rainey Street district have, at times, dealt with random guinea fowl just running around, a cousin to the bird that surrounds Sir Anthony in the ad. Surely you see the connection.
This ad, in our estimation, bodes poorly for the mayors of nineteen other cities in the running for Amazon’s HQ2. Austinites, meanwhile, should come to grips with the changes to their city and its housing availability, its traffic, and its property taxes. From the clues in this ad, it’s already a done deal.