The Bluths Take On Social Media: Arrested Development, Netflix, and the Importance of the Banana Stand
January 23rd, 2013 by
This Is The Story of a Wealthy Family Who Lost Everything, and the Social Media Campaign That Got Them Back Together.
While social media marketing is a useful and effective means of interacting with your customer base, not every campaign has the moxie to make your efforts take off — but one recently-revived cult television show is pulling out all the stops. Arrested Development has long been known for actively engaging its fanbase with inside jokes, subtle callbacks and clever Easter eggs. Cancelled after just two and a half short but brilliant seasons, AD accumulated such a devoted fanbase that the outcry prompted a full-scale resurrection over eight years later. Now that Netflix has revived the show for another 14 episodes, the show has dedicated its online efforts to getting fans excited all over again. By leveraging the show’s trademark subtle callbacks and absurdist humor, Netflix is keeping its userbase and its desires in mind — the first and most important rule of any social media campaign.
Some Fake Landing Pages, Raw Veggies, Cup-A-Soup — Baby, You Got A Social Media Stew Going
The first Easter egg Netflix launched in anticipation of the new episodes was to create fake Netflix landing pages for all the television shows and movies that have been mentioned on the show, from the titillating Les Cousins Dangereux to the schlocky Mock Trial with J. Reinhold. Upon clicking the link to the film, the user is taken to the Arrested Development scene where the title appeared.
The show has a history of creating websites and landing pages for running gags that occur in the narrative, one of the first television acts to do so all the way back in Ye Olde Internete of 2005. During AD’s original run, you were able to visit the Bob Loblaw Law Blog and ImOscar.com, both websites that were mentioned in multiple episodes of the series. It’s a hilarious meta-promotion of the kind of absurd, deadpan humor that made the show so beloved. Breaking or blurring the fourth wall between advertising and the product it’s promoting can be highly effective when you’re trying to reach a variety of Web-savvy users.
Yeah, You’re Gonna Get Some Walk-Ons
The most engaging of ways Netflix is attempting to drum up excitement for the new “don’t call it a season” season of the show is by holding a contest to have a walk-on role on the new episodes. Gamification, when used wisely, can really heighten user engagement by creating competition while attracting attention with the prize of ultimate fan fulfillment. Netflix asked fans to create a tribute of some sort to the show. Fans responded by dressing as different characters, creating different crafts or songs, and even creating an entire website with original artwork. The winning entries were amazing, and showed a dedication that genuinely warranted a walk-on role to the show.
I Just Blue Myself!
Certainly the most clever and subtle of Netflix’s Easter eggs has to do with a season-long running gag about Tobias Fünke becoming an understudy for the Blue Man Group. During the course of season 2, the blue paint from Tobias’ “costume” would rub off on pretty much every surface in the Bluth’s model home. Now searching anything with “blue” in the title, such as “Blue Velvet,” will lead you to a search page with blue smudges and handprints along the side. When you click on a handprint, Netflix serves you a now-infamous scene from the show where Tobias utters the phrase, “I just blue myself!” By creating a subtle but noticeable gag, Netflix creates both an accessible reference point for the show’s fanbase as well as conjuring up curiosity and interest in people unfamiliar with the show.
Engaging your customers via social media and viral marketing can be a great way to create a casual and fun appeal for your product, as well as cultivate brand loyalty from your base. It also gives new customers a great jumping-off point in how to interface with your brand. It’s important to show your users that your brand is in-tune with what their particular kind of chicken dance, and a well-crafted and executed social media campaign will put that message front and center. By carefully incorporating so many of the now-iconic callbacks and running gags of the original series, Netflix has done a superb job appealing to fans and drawing in new viewers alike. Keep your eyes peeled for new episodes in May 2013 — and for God’s sake, don’t forget to leave a note.