An Amazon promotion that offered gas for 30 cents a gallon to promote “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” snarled traffic near Los Angeles’ 10 freeway, creating less-than-marvelous traffic Thursday. You can watch a video taken at the scene above.
The promotion took place on the first day of Emmy voting for Television Academy members, and offered gas at the same price it would have sold for in 1959, the year in which “Maisel” takes place. The Emmy-nominated comedy stars Rachel Brosnahan as a housewife-turned-standup comic.
The sale at the Chevron station on the corner of Cloverfield and Michigan in Santa Monica started around 6:30 a.m., and soon turned into “complete chaos,” Santa Monica Police Lt. Candice Cobarrubias told TheWrap. Even murder investigators turned out to help control traffic.
“My entire murder unit as well as my traffic supervisors, traffic control and traffic sergeant are out there trying to facilitate as many people through to get gas as possible,” Cobarrubias said. “We were on the verge of shutting it down because of all the compaction this event generated in this area … We want everyone to take advantage of the opportunity — I’m all for it, I think it’s great. But I’m not ready to put our public safety at risk to get gas for 30 cents a gallon.”
By mid-day, several who seized on the sale said they had balanced wait times against savings.
One Santa Monica resident, Rolando Lopez, was able to fill up his tank with 18 gallons of gas for a grand total of $5.70. The Shell station across the street was selling regular gas for $3.59 per gallon.
Lopez said the wait for gas took “about an hour, an hour-and-a-half.”
“It’s good, but it’s terrible,” he said.
The event was an ambitious heightening of the promotions all over Los Angeles during awards season.
The Chevron station was one of 28 other businesses taking part in Amazon’s “Maisel Day,” in which Los Angeles bakeries, theaters, delis, salons and even a shoeshiner rolled back their prices to 1959. At the Chevron, employees dressed in crisp, white coveralls featuring the “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” logo on the front pocket.
“Maisel Day is another great example of how Amazon Studios is leading the industry in creating experiences and activations that allow our customers to explore the worlds of our Amazon Original series, and give them even more of what they love about our shows,” said Mike Benson, head of marketing for Amazon Studios, in a statement.
“Maisel Day” deals included a blowout for just $2 at Drybar, a Melburger and fries at Mel’s Drive-In for only 50 cents, and a night at the Hollywood Roosevelt hotel for just $40.
“Maisel” fan Sarah Tuft wore what she said was her “most Maisel, feminine, ’50s” attire — white gloves up to her elbows, Clark Kent style glasses, and a floral-print frock — for her trip to the gas station. She said she and her boyfriend treated “Maisel Day” like “a treasure hunt.”
“You know you’re going get some things, and you’re not going to get some things. It’s just a score, and there’s nothing to lose,” said Tuft.
Duda was unbothered by the swarm of police officers and traffic controllers.
“All they’re doing is directing traffic, you know? You want things to run smoothly and orderly, which things are doing,” he said. “It’s ingenious marketing on their part to do this, because think of all the amount of free publicity they’re getting. And it’s a good quality show as well. This is another way of going viral.”
For Jean Williams, 54, the trek from Inglewood to buy gas was worth it. She said traffic on the freeway was backed up for “a good 20 minutes” before she even exited for the station.
“I think this is beautiful,” she said. “I think this is good that everyone is still able to get gasoline, and not just something that was going for the morning.”
She didn’t know the event was Amazon-sponsored, nor had she ever heard of “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” before Thursday.
“I just thought it was a promotion to celebrate the prices for the 1950s. I saw the ‘Mrs. Maisel,’ but I looked way beyond that. I just saw 1950s prices, and that’s where I zoomed in. I didn’t even know this was a show.”
Tim Baysinger contributed to this report.