Netflix isn't what you would call a quintessential marketer. For one, the streaming video service does little in the way of traditional marketing. And what it does do, it doesn't like to discuss.
Despite accolades for its native advertising, use of data to attract and retain subscribers, and flair for creating social content that goes viral, the company remains decidedly tight-lipped in the area of marketing. But that refusal to use marketing as a force multiplier makes it all the more impressive when Netflix drives audiences to an unknown supernatural thriller as easily as it does to a popular TV revival.
Netflix under co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings has been a case study in how companies can use data to know what their audiences want and deliver the right message to the right viewer.
While the company largely relies on word of mouth, it has become proficient in creating content that gets shared and reshared. In turn, fans generate their own memes, gifs and videos that their friends then see, resulting in a steady buzz for Netflix's original programming.
This is how "Stranger Things," which follows a group of junior high misfits who go searching for their missing friend, became one of the most talked-about new shows of the year. While it received little advance hype, "Stranger Things" generated a cultlike following after its summer release, and fans include horror author Stephen King.
Netflix did some initial marketing around the series, including a four-hour live broadcast on Twitch, the social platform for gamers. It also forayed into virtual reality for the first time with a 360-degree video that places viewers into the creepy universe of the series.
But it was really viewers who got other people, their friends, to watch. "Stranger Things" has spawned plenty of cosplay, with fans dressing up like favorite characters, while a web tool that lets people write in the "Stranger Things" font took over social media this summer.