The applications are in. Kansas City hand-delivered hard copies of its proposal to Amazon in Seattle last week because KC really, really, really, really wants the company to build its second headquarters here.
If you don’t know by now that Kansas City has been wooing Amazon like a “Law & Order” stalker, you’ve been in a coma, haven’t you?
Kansas City’s full-court press earned it a place on several lists of the “most desperate stunts to woo Amazon.” Take a bow, KC.
Just this week Vanity Fair placed Kansas City on its list of “the 12 most desperate stunts cities have pulled to woo Amazon’s new H.Q.”
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The magazine handed out ignominious honors to New York City for lighting landmarks up in Amazon orange and Tuscon area leaders for sending Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos a 21-foot saguaro cactus.
Amazon declined the delivery.
Canadians made Vanity Fair’s list, too. During a hockey game between the Ottawa Senators and the Vancouver Canucks, a noise-meter on the arena’s big screen asked the crowd to “make noise for Amazon.”
The winner of all this intense courtship will land a deal that could be worth 50,000 jobs and an economic boost worth billions, which explains a “bidding war that at times has bordered on the absurd,” wrote Vanity Fair.
“Some of these locales will stop at nothing to prove they’re the right fit for Bezos’s growing empire — no public display of degradation is too humiliating, and no act of courtship is off the table.”
Kansas City made Vanity Fair’s list because of Mayor Sly James’ stunt involving Amazon product reviews — a whopping 1,000 of them, including a breakfast cereal made at a local General Mills factory and cat litter made by Arm & Hammer.
“Kansas City mayor Sly James — or, more accurately, some young staffer or intern in his office — bought and then reviewed 1,000 Amazon products for charities in the city, giving each a five-star rating,” Vanity Fair noted.
“Every review has since been aggregated on James’s web site; here’s what he had to say about some wind chimes:
“When it comes to my house and my housewares, there’s nothing I value more than bang for my buck. I live in beautiful Kansas City where the average home price is just $122K, so I know luxe living doesn’t have to cost a ton. That’s why at $14.99, these wind chimes are music to my ears.”
He then wrote that when he’s sitting in the backyard “of my reasonably priced home in a safe neighborhood with great schools and these chimes start to tinkle, it feels like the whole world is singing just for me.”
Fortune, too, added Kansas City to its list of most unique Amazon pitches, right there alongside the personal letter Michael Jordan wrote Bezos on behalf of Charlotte, N.C., and a Georgia town’s offer to rename itself Amazon.
Fortune noted James’ reviews of Amazon products and gushed that “the Kansas City mayor didn’t stop there. He promoted his efforts on Facebook and Twitter in an ‘unboxing’ video.
“Sly shared the video along with a tweet asking other residents, ‘What’s the best way to get Amazon excited about a new KC HQ? Amazon product reviews. Tell Amazon why you love KC with #KC5stars.’”
The Verge limited its list to eight of the most outrageous things cities did to lure Amazon.
Didn’t matter. Kansas City made that list, too, along with the flirty tweets sent to Amazon from Birmingham, Ala., and the promise of free sandwiches from Pittsburgh.
“While some more conventional cities like Charlotte, North Carolina, offered up proposals of 20 possible locations for an Amazon campus in a carved wooden box, others truly went the extra mile, revealing maybe too much desperation,” the Verge noted.
Clickhole mocked the whiff of “desperation.” The satirical website, which parodies “clickbait” sites such as BuzzFeed, imagined a scenario in which Bezos threw a “nail-studded baseball bat on the floor during a meeting with the mayors of Pittsburgh and Kansas City and asked them to prove how much they want the second Amazon headquarters.
“Industry experts say the civic leaders initially laughed off Bezos’ suggestion, but are now taking it seriously after the executive poured himself a glass of fine bourbon, took one long sip, and simply said, ‘Thousands of highly skilled jobs that will need filling.’”
The prize of thousands of highly skilled jobs explains why Kansas City’s bid was so unprecedented, described by civic leaders as the largest regional effort in the area’s economic development history.
It’s not clear when Amazon will announce the winner, beyond the promise of an announcement in 2018, according to GeekWire.