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Gini Dietrich

Netflix Screws Up In Canada

By: Gini Dietrich | September 29, 2010 | 
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On today’s InsidePR, Martin Waxman, Joe Thornley, and I discuss how Netflix screwed up in Canada. There were a few American news items about it, but I didn’t realize the severity of the issue until they had me read some Canadian stories about it.

The gist of it is that Netflix hired PR and marketing firms to help them launch in Canada. Reasonable, right? But one of the firms (and we’re hearing that it was not the PR firm) hired actors to pretend they were Netflix customers. These “customers” roamed the streets and did interviews with media, as if they were truly excited about the brand’s availability in the country. Of course, the media discovered these people were actors and Netflix had to do damage control, as well as issue this apology. Not fun when you’re launching a new service and you end up in crisis mode.

I think Netflix handled the apology well by coming clean: “We blew it.” But it blows my mind that, in today’s day and age when all we do is talk about transparency, that this could even happen. I don’t care if the firm is marketing, advertising, PR, or direct, all of us should know this is a HUGE no-no. If anything, take lesson from Edelman when they hired a blogger to trek the country visiting Wal-Mart stores, as if he were a customer. The fact that you’re not a PR professional is not an excuse. Don’t hire actors and pretend they are customers. Ever. This issue is at least four years old. Don’t do it. You will be found out, you will cause a client to have to do damage control, and you likely will lose that client. And for those of you who are clients? If your external resources are recommending a tactic like this, DO NOT APPROVE IT!

You can listen to us discuss this issue – with the Canadians being nice and defending our industry and me calling them out on it – on InsidePR today. The name of the game is transparency, transparency, transparency. Edelman knew better. Wal-Mart should have known better (and does now!). Now Netflix knows better.

What do you think?

Image courtesy of Fast Company

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About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Gini Dietrich, Robert Saric and Rachel Poor, Jared Wade. Jared Wade said: Dummies. RT @ginidietrich: Netflix Screws Up In Canada on @SpinSucks and @Inside_PR http://ff.im/-rioEq […]

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AssociatedIndustries, Andrew Park. Andrew Park said: This is a good example of what not to do and what to do. RT @ginidietrich Netflix Screws Up In Canada | Spin Sucks http://bit.ly/baf54R […]

  3. […] the service even going as far as to conduct media interviews to extol the virtues. In the wake of a clear breach of ethics, they apologized and we forgave them for their transparency ignorance. A slap on the […]