Netflix just pulled off one of the most strategic and memorable marketing campaigns I’ve seen in a long time.
A campaign that signifies a shift in the entire television network paradigm.
Akin to RedBull dropping a man from space on YouTube, Netflix just pulled off its own Bluth style ribbon cutting.
Netflix turned its nose up in the face of major networks by resurrecting a beloved, network cancelled, series to use as a vehicle for a marketing campaign that proves once and for all that the network model we call TV is ready to evolve into a social television network.
Social in the sense that viewers have a say in what they want to see.
Where chatter trumps ratings and where we get to choose how and when we throttle our programming intake.
TV shows are now social media events, something to gather around and talk about live. Screens have become agnostic and home is just another location in the mobile age of television.
You can either choose to participate in the conversation or go back and read the reactions after the show, either way Network TV has now become Social Network TV.
Netflix simply loosened the episodic noose and fans can start to choose to binge or peck at their entertainment. A series can be gorged on as a giant meal, with lively conversation and devoured in one sitting. Or can be plated like delicate courses served up in traditional fashion and then gossiped about the next day.
Critics like Mike Hale at the New York Times -http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/27/arts/television/arrested-development-on-netflixcom.html - seem to think this format “feels forced and overly complicated” but fail to recognize that the resurrection of Arrested Development isn't another House of Cards, it is a 15 episode advertising campaign for a new kind of network with a new kind of advertising model.
At a moment in time when all our marketing jargon is hovering around the word “native” like flies to honey, we are witnessing a clinic in native advertising being held by a brand that resuscitated itself from a Qwick blip of a mistake.
Netflix has come back even stronger with quality original content and a new programming method that goes against every rule in the network playbook. By unleashing a marketing campaign featuring one of the most beloved families to be canceled by network TV, Netflix in essence redefining TV.
The announcement alone created a groundswell of hyper anticipation, the “what if” of an Arrested Development in the social era came to light and the show that was 7 years ahead of its time got a second chance at what it was designed to do. Create chatter. Tons of chatter, viral chatter, inside jokes, random references and vagaries that only social media could exploit.
As a content platform Netflix is vying to become a new kind of TV network and it is using a cancelled show to disrupt a model that viewers are fed up with.
A show that in its very nature is a platform for social commentary and a host for a brand orgy like nothing we have ever seen.
From iPhones, Google Maps and Lacoste polos, the University of Phoenix and Mike’s Hard Lemonade all featured along side fictional Bluth brands we one day may find on the shelves as well.
We see the likes of Bluth’s Frozen Bananas and the Cornballer woven neatly next to real life brands into the non sequitarian story lines of Arrested Development. A show, that by breaking all the rules, gives itself permission to create new rules that allow brands to flourish within its story lines.
It gives way to a kind of native advertising that doesn’t break the story but plays a cultural role in how it is told.
There are still a few more hurdles to overcome, now that Netflix has successfully launched a hit drama series in House of Cards, revived a cult favorite in Arrested Development it still remains to be seen if Netflix can finish the job and premier a full length movie perhaps at a premuim and also help support new award winning documentaries.
If so we will witness the birth of a new entertainment option. One that is social at its core and completely screen agnostic. Untethered from cable packages and able to break new ground.
Netflix the brand is now as strong as its ever been. Striking a balance between compelling original content series that is free of brand influence with fan favorites new and old strewn with brand mention both real and fictional. Netflix now flaunts a user base that is actually gladly paying for the service.
With the help of a cancelled network show, Netflix may have cracked the code for a new successful online network model.