×

Why Netflix U.K. Is Leaning Into Impact Campaigns For Originals

Netflix is going the impact campaign route as it expands its profile in the U.K. and looks to assure local players of its commitment to the domestic ecosystem.

Why spend marketing dollars on impact? Partially because impact drives are a sure-fire way to raise profile. But for Netflix, this level of campaigning is particularly important in a market where both public and commercial broadcasters perceive it as an existential threat.

Outgoing BBC director general Tony Hall has been one of the industry’s most outspoken critics of cash-flush SVODs, and his successor will likely need to do the same. But to their detriment, what some senior industry figures still fail to understand is how Netflix is able to leverage its content in clever ways, particularly around impact.

Just as the streamer rolled out a global social media campaign around its first natural history foray, Silverback Films’ “Our Planet” with David Attenborough, made in partnership with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), Netflix is taking up a different educator role with Eleven Films’ hit YA drama “Sex Education.”

At an intimate event at London’s Covent Garden Hotel on Monday, Netflix screened a 40-minute featurette of “Sex Education” creator Laurie Nunn, cast members Aimee Lou Wood (Aimee) and Patricia Allison (Ola), and Everyday Sexism founder Laura Bates discussing an agonizing sexual assault scene from episode three and the wider societal issues around harassment and assault in public spaces.

The majority of the 50-member audience were not industry executives or media, but rather representatives from local non-profit groups supporting sexual health and various disabilities who had been specially invited to take part in a discussion.

The reel was followed by a panel with Nunn, actor Emma Mackey (Maeve) and intimacy coordinator Kat Hardman discussing the realities of writing for and executing what was, at one point, referenced as “the wokest show ever.” However, rather than trumpet the merits of Netflix, what ensued was an engaged, hard-hitting conversation about sexual assault, disability and intimacy on screen.

Nunn highlighted that the impetus for #MeToo-related storylines has “always existed” but that “no one was interested in telling them,” suggesting that the streamer, which also debuted “Unbelievable” last year, has created a platform for such conversations.

The question is whether public broadcaster BBC or even Channel 4, whose campaigning special “100 Vaginas” also sparked a national dialogue last year, would have allocated the resources for a laser-focused impact campaign of this level – for a single show.

In recent months, Netflix has conveyed signs that it is eager to play its part and give back to the U.K. ecosystem, from which it has forged some of its most popular originals to date, such as “The Crown,” “Black Mirror” (first originated at Channel 4) and now “Sex Education.”

As revealed by Variety, the streamer is close to signing Alison Small, CEO of The Production Guild of Great Britain, as head of its training initiatives out of the U.K. – a major coup for the streamer. The business also recently partnered with screen industry body ScreenSkills on an apprenticeship program, allowing production talent to work on local shows such as “Bridgerton” and “The Witcher.”

Such initiatives come just months after Benjamin King, director of public policy for the U.K. and Ireland at Netflix, committed the streamer to joining the effort to build up the TV and film workforce and increase diversity in the U.K.

“Across the entire sector, there is a growing focus on diversity, inclusion and investment in training,” he said. “These agendas are complementary and are priorities, not least because the scale of our plans in the UK are so dependent on addressing and meeting these challenges.”

Meanwhile, Anne Mensah, the former Sky drama boss who is now heading UK drama originals for the streamer out of London, told a House of Lords Communications Committee last summer that co-productions with domestic broadcasters are the “lifeblood” of the platform, and that she “truly believes” in Netflix’s commitment to the U.K. Mensah, who joined one year ago, has yet to reveal her slate of shows, but Variety understands that it’s not far off.

What’s clear is that as Netflix continues to evolve its presence in the U.K. and launch global-facing originals from the country, it will look to create a wider conversation for select originals, and it is that narrative that will help secure the buy-in it needs to be a success with the local industry.

More Digital

  • Vudu

    NBCUniversal in Talks to Buy Walmart's Vudu

    Comcast’s NBCUniversal is looking to add some Vudu into its streaming-video mix. The media conglomerate is in talks to buy Vudu, the Walmart-owned entertainment rental, download and free-streaming service, sources confirm to Variety. It’s unclear what the terms of the pact would be or the timing. News of NBCU’s interest in Vudu was first reported [...]

  • Tubi

    Fox in Talks to Acquire Free-Streaming Service Tubi for Over $500 Million (Report)

    Fox Corp. is in discussions about acquiring Tubi, the ad-supported free streaming service, in a deal worth more than $500 million, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing anonymous sources. With Tubi, Rupert Murdoch’s TV broadcasting and cable company would be adding a dedicated streaming component — offering over 20,000 older TV shows and [...]

  • Zombies 2 Disney Channel

    How Disney Channel's 'Zombies 2' Production Team Made Monsters Kid-Friendly

    Traditionally spooky creatures like zombies and werewolves get the Disney treatment in “Zombies 2,” the follow-up to the 2018 hit TV-movie musical of the same name. While the undead have now assimilated into the community of Seabrook, they’re confronted by a new set of outsiders: werewolves. Milo Manheim and Meg Donnelly return as Zed and [...]

  • Baby Yoda - The Child Animatronic

    Hasbro's Adorable Baby Yoda Animatronic Toy Is Already Sold Out on Disney's Online Store

    The Force remains strong for toys based on Baby Yoda, the breakout star of Disney Plus original series “The Mandalorian.” Less than a day after becoming available for pre-order, Hasbro’s new $59.99 Baby Yoda animatronic toy is no longer available on Disney’s official online store: As of Friday morning, Shop Disney listed it as “sold [...]

  • BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday

    BTS Leads Spotify’s New Music Friday Playlist Rebrand

    Spotify has launched a global rebrand of its popular New Music Friday playlist, which this week features BTS, The Weeknd, Noah Cyrus, Trippie Redd, Kenny Chesney, Rei Ami and others. The revamped playlist, which has 43 versions worldwide, has more than 3.5 million followers in the US and eight million globally. New elements include a [...]

  • The Witcher - Netflix

    'The Witcher' Season 2 Production Starts in U.K., Adds Seven to Cast Including 'Game of Thrones' Star Kristofer Hivju

    Production on fantasy epic “The Witcher” Season 2 has commenced in the U.K., with a planned launch in 2021, Netflix announced. The show also announced seven new cast members joining “The Witcher” for S2, including Kristofer Hivju, the Norwegian actor who played the red-bearded wilding leader Tormund Giantsbane on “Game of Thrones.” Netflix last month [...]

  • Disney Plus - Vizio

    Disney Plus Is Now on Vizio Smart TVs in Native App

    Disney Plus is available on Vizio’s SmartCast TV platform as a built-in app, making the Mouse House’s subscription-streaming service accessible directly to users of the manufacturer’s 13 million SmartCast-enabled televisions. Previously, Vizio users have been able to stream Disney Plus on SmartCast TVs through Apple AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. But with the Disney Plus update, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content