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Christmas Gift Guide
Tech Industry

Short films star on Amazon

In an unusual marketing strategy, Amazon.com debuts five free short films featuring Hollywood actors--and goods on its Web site.

Amazon.com is offering customers a series of five original short films for free viewing in a strategy aimed at holiday shoppers.

Starting Tuesday, the company plans to debut one short film each week on its home page. The films are loosely based on a theme Amazon describes as "karmic balance"--the idea that what goes around comes around and that, in the long term, those who do the right thing are rewarded.

This week's film, "Portrait," stars Minnie Driver. Directed by Jordan Scott, the movie tells the story of an overbearing fashionista who learns a lesson on inner beauty. Other actors starring in the movies include Blair Underwood, Daryl Hannah and Chris Noth.

Items for sale on Amazon's site will appear subtly in the films and in the credits. The company said users of Amazon Platinum Visa cards will get a discount of 5 percent if they buy products such as home furnishings, cosmetics and jewelry featured in any of the films.

JPMorgan Chase, which is sponsoring the series, will have the rights for product placements in the films, Amazon said.

The short films are a "great example of Amazon's relentless commitment to finding new and innovative ways to surprise and delight customers and deliver an unparalleled online experience," Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, said in a statement.

Online shopping for the holiday season is poised to grow significantly this year, according to JupiterResearch. An estimated 86 million Americans are expected to shop on the Internet for gifts and other items this season. E-commerce companies as well as technology companies are getting ready for the rush with new products and marketing campaigns.