When it comes to holiday tweets, should brands play naughty or nice? Netflix's snarky tweet, calling out fans of its movie "A Christmas Prince," begged the question on Dec. 11.
To the 53 people who've watched A Christmas Prince every day for the past 18 days: Who hurt you?
— Netflix US (@netflix) December 11, 2017
The tweet hit three not-so-sweet spots for Netflix's audience:
No one wants to be reminded their viewing habits are under constant surveillance. Users did not take the "Big Brother"-esque statistic lightly, with many commenters asking questions like, "Why are you calling people out like that Netflix?" (The brand responded, with characteristic sass, "I just want to make sure you're OK.")
It's a risky time to be making light of those who've been "hurt" or are heartbroken. "A Christmas Prince," a romantic comedy about a journalist and dashing prince, would seem to be targeted at women. Netflix's tweet brought to mind jilted ex-girlfriends going overboard on "chick flicks," but it's hardly the time to be mocking "hurt" women. Allegations of abuse and sexual misconduct continue sending shock waves across multiple industries, and brands would do well to be sensitive to this environment.
It doesn't feel great to be quasi-publicly shamed for obsessive viewing habits. Netflix didn't just let subscribers know they were being watched, it also signaled that user data is no longer private, to the point where it can be leveraged in social media marketing. As one user tweeted, "they'll use that data to ridicule specific customers publicly...@netflix doesn’t respect their larger customer base’s concerns about other ways @netflix might misuse private data."
In a statement to PR News, Netflix countered that claim. "The privacy of our members' viewing is important to us. This information represents overall viewing trends, not the personal viewing information of specific, identified individuals," a spokesperson said.
Despite the backlash, Netflix's risky tweet had some positive aftereffects. Anyone who follows the brand, but wasn't previously aware of "A Christmas Prince," might now tune in out of sheer curiosity. And it's unlikely that the company will lose more subscribers than it gains as a result of its snarky brand awareness play. Plus, the controversy drove earned media, ensuring "A Christmas Prince" was top of mind for Netflix's audience in the hours after the tweet.
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