Look, Ma, a ‘House of Cards’ billboard!


Netflix being Netflix, you might assume that its first original series, “House of Cards,” would launch Feb. 1 without any offline marketing. The streaming service is so intent on rewriting the syllabus for TV Programming 101, it wouldn’t have been out of character for CEO Reed Hastings to praise the power of the almighty algorithms Netflix uses for targeted advertising on its own platform and dismiss all other promotion as folly.

But the fourth-quarter earnings call Wednesday provided a reminder that Hastings hasn’t thrown out the entire TV 101 textbook. As this billboard that popped up this week in Los Angeles in the Pico-Robertson neighborhood can attest, Netflix will be doing some conventional marketing for “Cards,” albeit in pretty targeted fashion.

“We’re also generating a lot of attention in certain cities doing a
highly concentrated, large scale promotion to be able to see what the
effects of ours to stimulate the creative community awareness and
generally build a lot of buzz around those shows,” said Hastings.

Translation: Netflix’s push into original programming has to be on Hollywood’s radar in order to spur more interest from producers and talent that it is a new home for their wares. No doubt big cities where Netflix usage over-indexes will get their share of promotion as well, targeting the “influencer” crowd.

That said, the billboard is a pitch-perfect marketing execution. There’s that bold image of “Cards” star Kevin Spacey that grabs your attention, but the accompanying copy distills all the right messaging that needs to get across to consumers who aren’t accustomed to seeing Netflix as more than a home for library programming. And there’s that “All Episodes” reference to the service’s binge-viewing style.

Netflix CFO David Wells also indicated on the call there will be some TV promo spend, so keep an eye out for “Cards” commercials on those old-fashioned TVs.


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