It’s a bird… it’s a plane… it’s an ad? Universal launches drone-branded spot for Illumination’s Migration

14 December 2023 | By Jenn Roberts Ma, Senior Content Manager

A woman on a laptop

Fourth-grade teacher Magie Tran knew that her class was in for an adventure when her school’s principal, Alison DeLuna, told Tran that they had been invited to take a field trip to Amazon’s drone facility in College Station, Texas. But the exciting excursion turned out to be even more memorable than Tran ever could have imagined – both for her students, and herself.

That’s because DeLuna had a surprise up her sleeve: The real reason they were going to the Prime Air facility was so that drones could deliver two letters to Tran and her students. The notes would reveal that special gifts were on the way for them, courtesy of the new original Illumination film Migration – including a truckload of new classroom supplies for the students, and an all-expenses-paid trip for Tran to Jamaica.

In Illumination’s Migration, the action-packed new original comedy from the creators of The Super Mario Bros. Movie and Minions, the Mallard family of ducks is in a bit of a rut. So open-minded mom Pam (Elizabeth Banks) persuades cautious dad Mack (Kumail Nanjiani) to take their two kids on a family trip, via New York City, to Jamaica. The experience will inspire them to expand their horizons, open themselves up to new friends, and accomplish more than they ever thought possible, while teaching them more about one another – and themselves – than they ever imagined.

The moment when Tran learns about the Migration-inspired gifts coming her and her students’ way is the premise of a new docu-style ad spot captured by the Amazon Ads Brand Innovation Lab for the global theatrical release of Illumination’s Migration (including in the U.S. on December 22). Audiences are likely to see many parallels between Tran’s story of wanting to visit the Caribbean and that of Migration’s Mallards, who are determined to get to a warmer climate by winter.

Although the concept may have seemed to (literally) fall out of the sky, it was the result of six months of planning. Producers contacted DeLuna in September about the unique filming opportunity after fleshing out their creative strategy.

DeLuna recalls, “When it came to nominate a teacher, I thought, ‘Who really deserves this? Who could use a really special moment in her life?’ And I thought, Magie.”

A new commercial for Illumination’s Migration features branded Prime Air drones – a first-to-market execution

Universal Pictures and Amazon Ads took ambitious leaps (and flights) with the ad spot. Notably, the commercial features branded Prime Air drones – a first-to-market execution – that are outfitted in Migration-themed wrapping. Universal is also running a national sweepstakes contest from 27 November to 31 December via that gives audiences the chance to win their own Jamaican getaway.

Ruoxi Gao, a senior solutions manager within the Brand Innovation Lab, says that the project exemplifies how her team looks for synergies across Amazon’s suite of businesses and customer touchpoints so that they can tell brand stories in a distinct, refreshing and resonant way.

“With Illumination’s Migration, we immediately got excited about the symbolic connection between drone technology and the theme of the movie – which is all about the importance of expanding your horizons,” she explained. “We also knew we had an incredible partner in Universal Pictures, who always trusts us to lean in, think big and take risks. So it truly was a dream project for us to work on.”