How do you market a hot new TV show without the benefit of commercial space that you can fill with network promos? Just ask Netflix. The company has come up with a number of clever marketing stunts to get the word out about the upcoming premiere of Arrested Development ranging from Easter eggs on Netflix.com to this month’s live frozen banana stand in New York, which was visited by hundreds. It even sent around jokey emails to the media, reportedly from “Dr. Tobias Funke.”
The latest to get in on the action is Seamless.com, which has partnered with Netflix to offer an ordering page for “Bluth’s Original Frozen Banana.” If you don’t know what that is, then go watch the show, I guess.
The menu, which went live on Monday, is filled with food and drink items referencing the Bluth family, including the option to buy a double-dipped frozen, or a nice martini to accompany your snack. Unfortunately, the delivery minimum is $250,000.00, so you probably can’t afford to eat there.
Oh ha, ha.
Though these publicity stunts are funny, they do in fact have a serious purpose – Netflix needs to make original content work, and part of that is making sure its users (and potential users) know that content is out there. With a cult classic like “Arrested Development” on its hands – a show with the potential to top Netflix’s most-watched program, the original series “House of Cards” – it’s important to get the word out.
A study from February of this year suggested that Netflix’s quality, original programming has the potential to not only bring in new subscribers but keep current ones from canceling. About 86 percent of those surveyed said they would be less likely to cancel after watching “House of Cards,” for example.
“Arrested Development” was a critical darling and beloved by many, but it didn’t have the numbers to keep it on the TV airwaves. However, Netflix doesn’t need a TV-sized audience to make this model work. It only needs the niche audiences surrounding this show and others who, combined, can make up a significantly sized viewer base. That leaves the network (we’re calling Netflix a network now, right?) the wiggle room to have a little fun with its promotional stunts, instead of having to spend big on mass-media campaigns.