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The Problem With Amazon’s Cheap Gas Stunt

The company promoted its TV show The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel with a day of throwback 1959-style prices in Los Angeles. What could go wrong?
An aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.
An aerial view of Los Angeles shows the complex of freeways, new construction, familiar landmarks, and smog in 1962.David F. Smith/AP

On Thursday, Amazon Studios surprised L.A. with a day of throwback bargains. As part of its Emmy campaign for the period dramedy The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, the production arm of the e-commerce giant subsidized 1950s prices at classic Hollywood standbys, including 99-cent pastrami sandwiches at Canter’s Deli and $40 rooms at the Sportsmen’s Lodge.

By many measures, the day was a success. Hordes of shoppers lined up for the promotions, and social media channels were ablaze with appreciative fans. “1959 prices? You don’t say! ” exclaimed a 25-cent cupcake fan on Twitter. “Eating a 45 cent cheeseburger on the Ms. Maisel promo day to take back what the boomers took from me,” wrote another satisfied diner. Many deals sold out by evening.