Netflix Apologizes About Using Actors in Crowd During Launch Event, Why? - The UpStream

Netflix Apologizes About Using Actors in Crowd During Launch Event, Why?

posted Sunday Sep 26, 2010 by Nicholas DiMeo

Netflix Apologizes About Using Actors in Crowd During Launch Event, Why?

Netflix launched in Canada this week, allowing all of our brethren in the Yukon (not the SUV) to enjoy streaming videos to their heart's content. Lumberjacks and Mounties everywhere have waited long enough to have this wonderful service dance along the maple trees and into their homes, so obviously Netflix wouldn't have had a problem drumming up interest for their launch event that took place, right? Well, Netflix thought they'd need some help, so they hired actors to stand in during the event to attract attention.

As it turns out, people aren't happy with this even though it happens all the time. To find out more and what exactly is going on, hit the break.

Netflix hired a group of extras, just like every other company does at these large events, to be really enthusiastic about Netflix. Everything seems well and good so far, right? Well, information sheets were handed out to the extras and allegedly told them to "play types" and "behave as members of the public" who just "happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out." That piece of information leaking out to the public has caused Netflix to apparently be apologetic about this act even taking place.

The company's VP of corporate communications, Steve Swasey, even said he was "unaware" that a script was handed out and that "some people got carried away and it's embarrassing to Netflix."

It gets better, though. Netflix has now put out a blog post saying, blatantly, "we blew it." Now the story is that there was a shooting of a corporate video that was taking place during the launch event, and that the extras hired were given wrong instructions to talk to the news and media, an unintended part of the launch event.

I'm really unsure what to make of this at this point. Netflix did what every other company does during a launch event and hired actors to garner more interest. While a shooting of a corporate video may have occurred during this time, too, I don't think the extras were solely there for that purpose.

Here, you can read the blog post and take it for what it's worth and come to your own conclusion. We'd love to hear your thoughts in our comments section!

Steve Swasey, VP of corporate communications, here. I want to address an event held by Netflix in downtown Toronto yesterday as part of our launch of Netflix in Canada. The launch included the shooting of a corporate video with some hired extras, who, it turns out, were given improper direction to talk with the news media about their enthusiasm for the Netflix service. This was a mistake and was not intended to be part of our launch plan. Simply put: we blew it. We didn't intend to mislead the media or the public, and we can understand why some have raised questions. We're sorry that our misfire has given Canadians any reasons to doubt our authenticity or our sincerity.


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