International Women's Day was yesterday, March 8, and various brands went into overdrive a week or two ago to celebrate womanhood. While there's nothing wrong with it, what's wrong, though, is how brands go on repeating and selling the same stuff. From gym membership discounts to sales at clothing stores to 1+1 offers at bars, cliches have become the norm. Or, that's what Netflix India says in its new ad.
Ever since it made its India debut in 2016, Netflix has positioned itself as a brand which is young and isn't afraid to speak out. When the Supreme Court of India scrapped Section 377, which criminalised homosexuality, Netflix was one of the brands which celebrated the decision.
Similarly, the brand isn't afraid to poke fun at cliches, too. In 2016, it uploaded an ad featuring Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap that lampooned the stereotypical Diwali ads one is so used to seeing every year.
In 2020, Netflix India poked fun at its viewers who share account details to save money. In this case, a couple who'd broken up and now had to live with the shared account. The ad film was packaged as a movie trailer and shared on YouTube.
More recently, the streaming service released an ad which takes the mickey out of the Women's Day ads doled out at this time of the year. In the ad, the protagonist, actress Karishma Tanna, is seen waking up to a literal fitness influencer trying to sell her a flat 50 per cent discount on a gym membership. As she's getting ready for work, there's the 'Fab Fashion Sale' promotion. When she reaches office, she sees the unoriginal heart-shaped box and flowers. As the day comes to a close, her smartphone beeps, telling her about the '1+1 Shots' at a bar near her.
Then, when she reaches back home, she moves aside all the walking talking Women's Day promotions, simply lies down on her couch and asks for the TV remote. That's when she sees a message on the screen that no matter what the day, Netflix is always streaming.
Such tongue-in-cheek communication by Netflix is quite popular. One reason for it could be the uniformity of its communication theme across platforms. Wherever you go, Netflix will speak to you in the same tone and voice.
Azazul Haque, chief creative officer, Mullen Lintas, believes that the genesis of brands like Netflix is anti-convention. For instance, it challenges the cinema by creating cinema-like content to view at home. According to him, "Netflix is doing clever work". He likes the platform's singularity of thinking, which helps to catch eyeballs. He also likes how Netflix picks topical issues for its campaigns and then does something that mocks what the other players are doing.
Haque says that there have been brands in India like MTV, which have challenged conventions in the past, like Netflix does today. "For any brand that's anti-convention, it would do stuff like this," he says. Haque says the youth like brands which question convention, and right now, there aren't many players like Netflix, and that's why it is unique in this space.
Meanwhile, going back to the ad, towards the end, Tanna takes the remote to binge-watch on Netflix. It may seem odd because one has always associated the consumption of Netflix, or OTT content for that matter, via mobile-first. So, for a brand like Netflix to feature a TV stands out. Haque thinks it was a cue by Netflix to remind people that you can access it anywhere. Also, Netflix would like to occupy all the spaces where its content can be consumed.
Anupama Ramaswamy, National Creative Director, Dentsu Impact, asks while all this is true about women’s day what are we trying to say here? She adds that if Netflix is offering something extra, it's not clear in the ad. "While they have stated facts about other ads they don’t seem to have a solution. The fact that all of 8th March is shown with all the “other ads” and 9th March is only with Netflix is not such a strong landing thought," says Ramaswamy.
She opines tha ad is layered as smart TVs are becoming increasingly popular "OTT content consumption through the TV is the reason TV sizes are becoming bigger and TV itself is now smarter," she says.
Ramaswamy's take on the communication is that it's a simple idea and it would be interesting if they didn't follow it like a 'format'. "While I had loved the Diwali ad as the humour and satire was strong. The use of Anurag Kashyap and the end line of why are you still watching this ad still sticks. The valentines one was a bit different but extremely long. And now with the women’s day ad it seems like they are wanting to follow the format which itself becomes a bit boring..." She signs off