Netflix marketing: 6 examples of on-demand genius

Netflix marketing

The much-hyped release of Stranger Things 3 is just one week away. Unsurprisingly, brands have been jumping on the bandwagon for well over a month already, securing precious earned media by piggybacking on the cult series from Netflix, marketing champion of the streaming world. 

We’ve had Coca Cola announcing the re-launch of its ill-fated ‘New Coke’. Originally unveiled 1985, when the new Stranger Things season is set, the product was removed from stores due to public outcry at the time but said soft drink giant evidently believes it can win this time on nostalgia alone. 

Even less inspired is Burger King’s Upside Down Whopper. Literally the fast food chain’s signature burger, served upside down, it’s a not-so-subtle reference to the dark dimension Stranger Things transports viewers to. But while these campaigns fall short of the ingenious mark, Netflix itself has earned a stellar reputation for marketing prowess. 

In a highly competitive on-demand entertainment sector, the brand is the current market leader. Its subscription numbers grew 92% in the five years to 2018, and estimates suggest 37% if all global internet users now have access. This success stems from more than the content alone. 

Here are 6 examples to prove Netflix marketing shows real genius. 

Stranger Things Season 2

Here Netflix made the most of every social platform’s unique functions— so Facebook users could switch a camera filter on to turn backgrounds into The Upside Down. Snapchat got the best of the lot, though, with a special Lens launched creating a portal into the eerie living room from the series. Once ‘inside’, the public could find various items linked to the plot and explore the chilling surrounds. 

The Greatest Day In Hollywood

The crux of this campaign was highlighting Netflix’s impressive record for ethnic diversity on screen. Releasing a video inspired by the iconic image ‘A Great Day In Harlem’— which features 57 jazz musicians on a New York street— the clip includes 47 leading black characters from different movies and shows. 

In the wake of the 2016 ‘Oscars So White’ controversy this not only highlights the positive and progressive side of Netflix, it sends a message home that Hollywood is an outdated model struggling with representation. Top marks. 

The Cloverfield Paradox 

The real paradox here is how the campaign is more about what wasn’t done rather than what was. Paramount Pictures sold this instalment in its cult Cloverfield franchise to Netflix for big money, but the marketing team decided to do nothing in advance. 

No trailers, no review streams, no posters or banner ads. Instead an announcement that the film was available to watch hit multiple channels in the middle of the Super Bowl. This made it clear Netflix doesn’t need to conform to the old cinematic marketing modus, while the flick’s play count went through the roof in 24-hours. 

Altered Carbon 

To promote its sci-fi series about rich people achieving immortality by having their emotions and conscious implanted in a new body Netflix set up a fake company, Psychasec. Then it rented a stall at the biggest event in tech— CES.

The stand was manned by white-coat-wearing ‘scientists’, who talked visitors through the finer points of eternal life. Body bags contained options for different ‘sleeves’ (host bodies), stickers compelling people to boycott the company were crudely stuck to displays, and samples of a gel needed to help transition into new skin were given out. 


America’s increasingly-tolerant attitude towards weed was fully exploited to promote Disjointed, a show about one woman’s experience opening a marijuana dispensary.

The brand took over a weed shop for one week. No laws were broken— customers needed medical license to buy specially themed cannabis strains— and it was limited to West Hollywood. Nevertheless, the stunt bagged headlines worldwide. 

Black Mirror 

Charlie Brooker’s cutting-edge dystopian series was one of Netflix’s shrewdest purchases and remains a trophy piece. The latest mini-series went live this year and viewing figures have been huge. Back in 2017, when the service first acquired the rights from Channel 4, it needed to let people know Netflix was the new home for this acclaimed show. 

Taking a lead from an episode called The Waldo Moment, it targeted Turkey’s equivalent to Reddit. Members of the community received mysterious direct messages from a user called ‘iamwaldo’, which read “We know what you’re up to. Watch and see what we do.” A fittingly bold and shocking way to garner attention given Black Mirror’s vibe.