Tuesday, 8 March 2016

House of Cards: Netflix marketing genius

On Friday last week Netflix released 13 new episodes of the much anticipated fourth season of its hit show House of Cards. The American political drama has been both a critical and commercial success for Netflix since it premiered in February of 2013. The show follows the story of Frank Underwood, played by Kevin Spacey and his rise to power as member of the South Carolina State Senate all the way to the White House, becoming the President of the Unites States.

Besides being a fantastic Internet television series the hit show is a triumph of excellent marketing practice. In fact, the timing could not be better with the United States currently heading into its next presidential elections. With Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump regularly grabbing the headlines in recent weeks, the House of Cards audience are primed for the political messaging which accompanies the shows main theme.

Source: https://www.fu2016.com/

Campaigners and fans of the show have been urged to show their support for the President by tweeting the hashtag #FU2016. Using Frank Underwood’s initials is a subtle yet clever double entendre, which brilliantly mirrors and reflects the aggressive attitude of the shows main character.
The microsite for the show even allows you to download your own media kit with Frank Underwood themed branding. This includes Facebook and Twitter covers, a poster, sticker badge and even a bumper sticker for the car. The Frank Underwood brand really comes alive through the use of patriotic colours that you would expect from a real political candidate.

Source: https://www.fu2016.com/

Although this is all just for entertainment purposes, this level of attention to detail makes the show feel very real indeed. It is a marketing campaign fit for a real presidential candidate, not just one being played out for drama.  On Twitter this week the President even issued a pardon to House of Cards fans to miss any important meetings they may have until they finish watching the fourth season.  Of course, those who defy the President's orders would be met with zero tolerance for betrayal to the show.

Source: https://twitter.com/FUNDERWOODHOC

There are many reasons why House of Cards has become such a successful series. You could point to the slick production skills or the heavyweight actors and actresses who star in the show. But I think the main reason why it works so well is because it gives political insight into what happens behind closed doors whilst weaving in drama and fiction. The level of detail shown in each episode is equally supported with marketing that is as sophisticated and nuanced as the show itself. Netflix have developed a reputation for consistently creating unique content with their shows becoming somewhat of a hallmark for quality. But I think equal recognition must be given for the fantastic marketing that accompanies these shows.

But that’s enough from me for this week, it’s time to start season 4!

Robert Brunning
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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