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Netflix's reading of Indian Users: They love a Crime Thriller

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Netflix's reading of Indian Users: They love a Crime Thriller

When there’s a new movie/show all set to premiere on Netflix, the global streaming giant makes sure you know all about it. In a no holds barred attempt to promote a movie, Netflix is said to have spent around USD 5 million for a single ad to promote The Cloverfield Paradox during the Super Bowl. That’s how far Netflix is willing to go.

In India though, Netflix does not necessarily promote every show on a large scale. It takes a slightly different tone and route to the minds and hearts of its viewers in the sub-continent. Case in point: Altered Carbon.

Netflix’s latest Original show Altered Carbon premiered on February 2. The hoardings plastered across town in the cities of Mumbai, Delhi, and Bangalore suggest that the the show is a murder mystery set in a world where humans are immortal. The messaging for the show clearly avoids words like sci-fi, cloning, even on social media platforms. Netflix seems to have made one crucial deduction about its Indian audiences. Indians love a crime thriller and a murder mystery even more. What about sci-fi? No please.

The imagery used on the hoardings, and Twitter feed in India are vastly different from what the Netflix US, Netflix UK, and Netflix LATAM Twitter handles are saying about the show. The OOH content is designed specially for the Indian audiences based on data about consumer preferences. During the promotional phase a tweet on the Netflix US Twitter handle introduced body sleeves and the dashboard for the immortal tech of Altered Carbon; the Indian counterpart conveniently did not retweet any of this. Instead the Netflix India handle is asking people if they ‘would rather kill if they couldn’t get caught’.

Netflix LATAM Tweet about Altered carbon says 'Live Forever One Body at  a Time', with the image of a person inside what looks like a life-size ziplock bag.

The UK, US and LATAM handles are also promoting another upcoming sci-fi show titled Mute starring Alexander Skarsgård, but Mute is yet to make an appearance on Netflix India’s timeline.

Regional Connect

It is no secret that Netflix would rather use its ad monies on promoting new shows and rely on organic/word of mouth for its most popular original shows. This, however, was not the case with the promotions for Narcos, Stranger Things, and House of Cards. With shows like House of Cards, Netflix brought viewers up to speed with all the seasons and presented the show not as an American political drama but a story about office politics. The streaming giant got its Indian audience curious about Narcos without once using the word ‘drugs’, and may have even got Indian moms interested in the show with its latest sketch based on Narcos - Kaki Kartel.

Stranger Things: 

Your mom when you’re supposed to be home at 7:00 but it’s 7:01. #JoyceModeOn

— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) November 8, 2017


You’ve heard of the Cali Cartel, now meet the Kaki Cartel. #Narcos

— Netflix India (@NetflixIndia) September 16, 2017
Black Mirror 

For its hit sci-fi anthology series - Black Mirror, Netflix has chosen to keep its promotions for to a minimum. The world cannot stop raving about Black Mirror, but all that Netflix India had to say about Black Mirror was one measured tweet that alludes to the Adhaar Card. Netflix India has kept its Black Mirror promotions to a minimum, but packed a punch with a single GIF. One tweet connecting Adhaar Card to Hang the DJ, one of the most acclaimed episodes of the season, got 4.4K retweets and was favouritied 5.8K times.

Netflix’s India strategy has always been to make the shows relatable to the Indian audience.
With Stranger Things, Netflix drew a parallel to how Indian moms are protective about their children. And very recently when Will Smith’s Bright began streaming on Netflix, a sketch compared Orcs and their troubles to the marginalised minority community. “Netflix has also roped in Indian celebs like Tanmay Bhat, Biswa Kalyan Rath, Abhish Mathew, to promote Netflix Originals. The Indianisation of the content helps with broadening the audience. Netflix advocates pick up on the quirky content and re-share it among their circle of millennials,” said Rajiv Dingra, CEO, WAT Consult. He further added that being a premium content platform whose content has a global appeal, Netflix is reaching out to a niche audience in India where it is closely keeping tab on what Indians prefer to watch. He suspects that Netflix is betting on its crime thrillers in India because they are proven to be sticky content. 

High Marketing Spends

For Netflix, India is a very important market. Will Smith recently flew down to India to promote his movie 'Bright' while Netflix India hosted Brad Pitt in the country for the promotions of the movie War Machine. Even though surprising, Netflix has a constant presence in the form of outdoor billboards at prime locations across the three cities. According to some conservative industry estimates, the outdoor spend stands at around Rs 3.5-4 cr per month. “If Netflix is targeting an Urban Sec A+ audience who are first-movers when it comes technology, I do not know why they would spend money on OOH,” Manav Sethi, CMO Alt Balaji. And this spend is only going to increase. Netflix has already revealed plans to increase marketing spend to US$2 billion in 2018 from USD 1.3 billion in 2017.

The India-specific outdoor campaigns are currently limited to the three metros of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore. “Maybe when Netflix decides to do a brand campaign, they will hit more cities,” said a highly-placed source in the industry on the condition of anonymity. Netflix’s brand campaigns have been restricted to the digital platforms so far. Sethi felt that a cohesive campaign across all mediums may also emerge when Netflix launches an Indian Netflix Original.

Netflix founder and CEO Reed Hastings has declared that the company will look at increasing marketing spend faster than it is increasing revenue. “And as we are right now, it still is a really good financial investment to increase on the marketing and that may continue to be so but we’re always also trying to improve the product in the organic reach, social and PR of the title marketing where you end up having to spend less on the marketing,” said Hastings in an earnings call recently. “This makes a lot of sense because the company is in the growth mode. It is important to invest in customer acquisition and marketing when you are launching in a number of countries to build awareness for the product and also kindle a behavioural shift,” said Sethi.
exchange4media reached out to The Glitch (AOR Netflix India) for a comment; the agency was not at liberty to speak on the matter 

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