Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Now Streaming on Netflix: The Movie Where We Dupe Journalists

Netflix (NFLX) gets almost perfect marks for execution, all the time. But you can’t nail them all the time. Particularly if you try to fake a news conference.

From The Globe and Mail:

Netflix Inc. closed down a Toronto street Wednesday and attracted dozens of onlookers for a splashy launch to promote its highly anticipated foray into Canada.

Problem is, many of those in the crowd were actors who were paid to be there. Many of the “extras” on hand were interviewed by journalists, who didn’t realize they weren’t real consumers interested in the product.

“Extras are to behave as members of the public, out and about enjoying their day-to-day life, who happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out,” reads an information sheet handed out to extras.

“Extras are to look really excited, particularly if asked by media to do any interviews about the prospect of Netflix in Canada.”

Astonishing, right?

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey who is quoted in the Globe and Mail piece, doesn’t deny the paper’s report, and apologizes for the incident. But via email, he does offer a more benign explanation of what happened:

Really, it’s a case of two worlds colliding. Some extras were hired for a corporate video shoot earlier in the day – taking advantage of the launch event to tape some promotional footage for our own use. Some of the extras were still around when the press briefing let out across the street.