There’s nothing wrong with promoting a new TV series and films with props. It’s an effective gimmick that draws crowds, especially when it comes to shows with built-in audiences. Science fiction fans are especially drawn to these kinds of stunts.
Long-running franchises such as Star Trek and Godzilla have employed traveling exhibits chock full of costumes, props, makeup designs, and more to promote the latest incarnations of these much-beloved properties. So, when Netflix decided to try their hand at promoting their latest science fiction series Altered Carbon using this strategy, you might say they went a little…ah, overboard.1
Nothing gets attention like human bodies in plastic bags. Yeah, they did that.
Before I move on…the bodies were fake but made to appear very real, not that Netflix outright said that. (I mean, why ruin the illusion?)
Altered Carbon’s premise was this: Set about three centuries into the future, a corporation has figured out how to transfer people’s mind into new artificially cloned bodies, called “sleeves”. The show’s main character is a detective who dies on another planet and has his mind sent to a “sleeve” on earth so he can investigate a murder. (Okay, that’s pretty cool).
To promote the show and get people familiar with the premise, Netflix sent “sleeves” to various events and locations including the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, an exhibition and even a bus stop in Santa Monica.2 (Oh, did I mention that they were breathing?!)
And they played the whole thing straight, including booth operators who wore lab coats and adopted deadpan deliveries.3 (ha!)
Much of the press was amazed at the production values. However, there was a certain…revulsion at the realism. Would children “freak out” at the sight? (And wouldn’t parents appreciate the ensuing nightmares…)
Maybe that was the reaction Netflix wanted, considering the show themes revolved around the morality of immortality and the value of life. (So…a win?).
In all, the true test would likely be the show’s viewership (read: ratings). If anything, fake cloned bodies are one hell of a DISRUPTION and make waiting for your bus ride MUCH more interesting—or horrifying!
I’ll leave that decision to you.
Of course, you don’t have to terrify your audience to earn the DISRUPTION you’re looking for.
In fact, your BIG IDEA is not at all scary, is it? More like a great solution to a problem, right?
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Savov, Vlad, “Netflix is goofing off with lab-grown bodies at CES”, TheVerge.com, www.theverge.com/2018/1/10/16874692/netflix-altered-carbon-stunt-ces-2018, January 10, 2018
McCarthy, John, “Netflix is incubating a human in a bus stop to promote Altered Carbon”, TheDrum.com, www.thedrum.com/news/2018/02/04/netflix-incubating-human-bus-stop-promote-altered-carbon, February 4, 2018
Walton, Jarred and Nguyen, Tuan, “Human cloning stunt was the weirdest thing at this year’s CES”, PCGamer.com, www.pcgamer.com/human-cloning-stunt-was-the-weirdest-thing-at-this-years-ces/, January 11, 2018