Netflix Hires Fake Crowd to Look Excited at Media Event

NetflixNetflix kicked off the introduction of its streaming-entertainment service into Canada by closing off a street in downtown Toronto and holding a splashy media event. Excited people thronged the street, but journalists were unaware that many of the people were "extras," hired and paid by Netflix to act like excited consumers. An information sheet handed out to extras instructed them give media interviews and "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." The sheet described the event as a "corporate documentary" and told the actors to "play types, for example, mothers, film buffs, tech geeks, couch potatoes etc." After word of the ruse got out, information about it spread on Twitter. Netflix apologized, but made excuses about the fake crowd. Steve Swasey, Vice President of Corporate Communications for Netflix, said he was unaware a script had been handed out to extras, and said the extras should not have been talking to reporters. Another company spokesman said a handout for the extras was required to obtain a film permit for the launch.


This doesn't surprise me at all. I'll bet that corporations do stunts like this frequently to drum up publicity. In fact, I once heard that corporations like publicity, even if it is negative.

I am not sure why Netflix would perform such an action when there brand is already popular throughout. I could see it being a big communication problem or maybe they were shooting a video and they wanted everything to go according to plan.

When it comes to large media events, companies will do pretty much anything to grab the most attention. Planting people in the audience is a strategy that is often used in the music industry to create hype at a concert, and it's quite effective.