Marketing in the Upside Down
Last fall, like a lot of other humans, I inhaled Netflix’s Stranger Things. I would say I just watched the series, but that suggests it was passive activity. Not the case. I aggressively consumed Stranger Things. I watched most of the season within 3 days, then forced myself to wait a week to watch the last two episodes just to prolong the high. I followed my favorite actors from the series on Instagram, watched cast interviews on Youtube, and used Snapchat to let everyone know when I was watching it.
There was a small issue- I watched it this fall, not during the summer when it premiered. There were a few reasons for this: I’m not an innovator or early adopter, I don’t watch Netflix very often, and I was in the Hawaiian jungle for the months prior to and following its premiere. Still, once I started the series, I couldn’t stop. Why? While I was ferociously consuming the show, Netflix was doing the complete opposite with its marketing. Before watching the show, I saw one trailer for Stranger Things on Youtube. The series wasn’t forced on me by marketers, it was forced on me by friends and family who’d binge-watched the show. They didn’t see advertisements either; they were influenced by their friends who’d seen the show. Somewhere down the line, someone was intrigued enough by a couple trailers featuring disheveled Winona Ryder to wait for the July 15 premiere.
Netflix successfully marketed their essentially unknown show by doing what so many networks are forgetting to do: less. That’s it! Do less. Instead of shoving Stranger Things down viewers’ throats, they quietly built up the hype by relying on word-of-mouth. They let consumers take the reins and only upped their social media presence in the few weeks leading up to the premiere. Cable TV is saturated with sub-par programming that is being advertised constantly. How many times do I have to see commercials for Shadowhunters, 2 Broke Girls, or anything with Kevin James before I abandon technology forever? Who do I trust more to give me good TV show recommendations, my friends? Or Kevin James?
Stranger Things is a perfect example of the direction TV networks, and brands in general, should be headed toward. When it comes to advertising, less is more. Viewers prefer quality over quantity.