For years, Netflix had a business model that was solid, but certainly not extraordinary. They made content created by other entertainment companies (movies, tv shows, documentaries, etc.) available to you, the viewer. They were prescient enough to recognize that the future will arrive via the web, and not as it did in their original model of dvds via U.S. mail.
But the real sea change occurred when they decided to, as one writer put it, ‘stop selling tickets and join the circus’. So they rolled the dice and spent millions to produce the original series ‘House of Cards’ starring Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright.
If you think about it, that’s a pretty dramatic shift, and perhaps more importantly, it required substantial investment. The results? Dan Frommer says ‘it’s certainly the most compelling made-for-digital series I’ve ever seen.’ Netflix (somewhat famously) won’t provide viewership numbers, but they do admit the series is the most-watched content on their entire network. BTW, Netflix had 27 million streaming subcribers in the U.S. at the end of 2012. It will be interesting to see what that number is by the end of April.
The important thing from a marketing perspective is that the brand was willing to try something outside their ‘business as usual’ model, and it paid off.
Here’s another current example of being willing to take a risk. Comedy Central recently produced a 30 second video of ‘a pig rescuing a goat‘, that looked like it was real. They quietly put it on YouTube (under a fake name) with the title, ‘Pig saves goat who’s foot was stuck underwater at petting zoo. Simply amazing.’ What’s really amazing about this is that the entire thing was fake. The video has been viewed more than 7 million times thus far. And Comedy Central created a ton of buzz for their new series ‘Nathan for You’.
Once again, a perfect example that reveals if you want to break through today you also have to break the rules. Being safe means being invisible. And of course you have to be willing to fund your outside-the-box thinking as well.
Next time you have a meeting with management where they want to know why your brand doesn’t have enough visibility and why growth is anemic, this is something to remember.