Brian Bailey Preface to the Revised Edition

Netflix Marketing

While on our vacation, we've enjoyed some family television time during the late evenings. Well, we did while in Denver; the YMCA near Rocky Mountain National Park is smart enough to not offer televisions in the rooms. Since there is no such thing as Hotel:TiVo (when will that become a trend?) I've actually watched a few commercials for the first time in months. Which leads me to Netflix.

There is no doubt the Netflix has been incredibly successful and continues to grow at a fast pace. We were early Netflix customers, as were many of our friends. Strangely enough, most of us no longer are, but I don't think that's a reflection on their service, though it may be a reflection on their increasing prices. Nevertheless, for a service that is so popular, it is very common to read criticisms of the company and particularly its marketing. After seeing my first Netflix commercial, I'd have to agree.

The spot features a married couple with a small child. The baby is just starting to take its first steps when a Netflix envelope drops through the mail slot on the door. The parents are so thrilled ("Isn't it beautiful!") with receiving a movie through the mail that they entirely ignore their child walking in the background.


Who is this supposed to appeal to? I find it hard to believe a parent, particularly a mother, would be impressed by an ad that suggests that a product is so good, you'll ignore your child just to admire it. Obviously, the point is humorous, but why use the negative approach rather than the more appealing positive approach?

Here's my version. Same parents sitting on the floor with their child. Child begins to struggle to her feet and start walking. Father stands up and says, somewhat panicked, "What time is it?" Wife looks confused as she struggles to setup the video camera. "11:45. Why?"

"I have to take the movies back. They're due at noon."

Meanwhile, the baby continues to waddle forward. The wife pleads, "Honey, can't it wait? You don't want to miss this!"

"Late fees, dear! You don't want to have late fees, do you?" he shouts as he runs out the door. The mother and baby stare at the closed door, dumbfounded.

The screen goes black.

There must be another way.

Guess what? There is!