Google is taking its smart speaker battle with Amazon to movie theatres across the country

  • Google is touting the Google Home Mini through an experiential marketing campaign running through the holiday season.
  • It is running an ad for the smart speaker in 200 movie theatres across the US that actually triggers the theatre’s lights to dim at the end.
  • The activation is part of a broader and aggressive marketing effort by the company to tout the smart speaker.

Google last month unveiled the Google Home Mini — a smaller version of its smart speaker and its answer to Amazon’s Echo Dot. Now, the company is taking its battle with Amazon to 800 movie screens in theatres across the US.

Starting tomorrow, Google is touting its latest smart speaker through an experiential marketing campaign running through the holiday season, designed to demonstrate the functionality of the Google Home Mini to movie-goers at over 200 theatres all over the country.

Google is running a 30-second ad for the Google Home Mini that is already on TV before a film starts in the theatres. It showcases the device’s various functions, including how it can be used to dim the lights — something that is actually triggered in front of theatre audiences when the narrator prompts the Mini to dim the lights at the end of the ad.

The activation is similar to a stunt that Burger King pulled in one of its marketing efforts earlier this year, except that it wasn’t actually sanctioned by Google. It is specifically based on the insight that controlling lighting is one of the features that people find most appealing with voice assistants.

“We wanted to showcase the technology behind the device and get our message out in a way that was fun, useful and educational,” Joshua Spanier, senior marketing director of global media at Google, told Business Insider. “The best way to do that was to show, not just tell, by giving them the experience of actually dimming the lights in cinemas.”

Another reason that Google opted to target theatres was because that way, it could target a large audience at scale, according to Sean Tate, global account director at Google’s agency PHD, which created the campaign.

“We know that theatres happen to be places where the people whom we’re targetting go to, so it allows us to acheive scale,” he said. “We’re targeting young, tech-savvy families — so it’s not a particular age demographic but people who are interested in tech more broadly.”

Google has been aggressively promoting the Google Home Mini since its launch, including through partnerships and product placements in shows like Modern Family and Jimmy Kimmel Live. It will also run a holiday-themed effort soon, according to Spanier.

Still, it continues to trail behind the Amazon Echo and its family of products, with most analysts estimating that Amazon’s marketshare is
between 75 and 80% in the smart speaker category.

But Google insists it isn’t focused on, or concerned about competition.

“Amazon invented the category. But we are excited to bring Google’s version to life and do things that only we can do given the extent of Google’s technology,” said Spanier. “Our focus is not on our competition, it’s on our customers.”

Get the latest Google stock price here.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.