In Part 1 we looked at the ways brands were featured in the popular “House of Cards” series on Netflix, which does not have commercial breaks and runs on a platform that does not sell ad space. On the other side of the same coin is how the series itself was promoted.
It’s been more than three weeks since the release of season two and it is safe to say the season was a smash hit. Season two lived up to the hype developed from the massive amount of promotion and the instant success of season one.
To put things in perspective, less than 2 percent of Netflix subscribers streamed season one during its first weekend last year, whereas over 15 percent of subscribers streamed at least one hour of season two on the first day it was released. Additionally, searches for the term “House of Cards” were up 76 percent compared to the same time last year, according to Google Trends data.
So, how does a series increase so greatly in popularity from one season to the next? For one thing, it doesn’t hurt to have the names of Kevin Spacey, Robin Wright and David Fincher attached. It also doesn’t hurt to be coming off an award-winning first season, including becoming the first online-only series to be nominated and win Primetime Emmy Awards.
Netflix leveraged this success in its promotional campaign for the second season. Before even releasing the official trailer for the upcoming season, the online video-streaming company released a 30-second teaser video, which only featured a shadowy profile of Claire Underwood smoking a cigarette indoors. Not only was it simple and effective, it was also very gutsy. Again, the clip was simply Mrs. Underwood smoking – nothing really of substance – but it was enough to fuel the hype.
As other online teasers and trailers started pouring out and the Feb. 14 release date drew closer, “House of Cards” was already making waves in the public social sphere with multiple mentions on Twitter and Facebook. In fact, in the 11-day span after the second season’s release, the show generated over 1.3 million tweets – a 420 percent increase over the 11-day span after season one’s release.
Many of these tweets came from well-known Twitter users or celebrities. However, the most famous tweet about the series came from the official account of the U.S. President, Barack Obama. This tweet alone, asking fans to refrain from spoilers, received over 42,000 retweets and 25,000 favorites.
The funny part about the whole thing is that the tweet didn’t come from the President. While President Obama has spoken about “House of Cards” before, Organizing for Action runs his account. The @BarackObama profile also clearly states, “Tweets from the President are signed ‘-bo.’” Many reputable news outlets incorrectly reported that the President sent it, even though the infamous tweet did not contain the designated signature.
These public endorsements surely added to the profile of Netflix’s already strong promotional approach, which featured online display ads on many political news websites, including popular Capitol Hill publication “Politico.” There were also promotional posters in many of Washington D.C.’s metro stations , which is the second-busiest public transit system in the U.S. and serves over 700,000 riders per day.
All in all, living up to all the hype of season two will surely help “House of Cards” grow in popularity, and it may even bring along some new Netflix subscribers. While the show’s popularity won’t continue to grow exponentially, it will be enough of a bump to make Netflix very happy – especially because they’ve invested well over $100 million on the series thus far.
[Sources: Forbes, NY Times]