A Series of Unfortunate Marketing Campaigns

There is some innate quality within all of us that makes us yearn to do the exact opposite of what we are told. I’m not talking about breaking the fundamental rules of society. Driving on the wrong side of the road, stealing and wearing white after Labour Day are definitely still no-nos. I’m talking about breaking those small rules. Entering a venue via the exit lane. Finding your way into a VIP section. Getting a discount to avoid paying the marked price. And, most pleasing of all, doing exactly the opposite of what staunchly worded advertising tells you to do. Breaking all these little rules gives each consumer a little rush and that is exactly what Netflix’s remake of A Series of Unfortunate Events is relying on!


Way back in 2004, the ever-popular young adult book series A Series of Unfortunate Events was lifted off the page into a compilation movie starring Jim Carey as the perilous and morally defunct Count Olaf. Clearly intended to be the start of a longer (although less extended than Harry Potter) franchise, the first movie covered the first three novels before leaving the Baudelaire orphans mid-journey at the end of a less-than-blockbuster release.

A mere 13 years later, this harrowing tale has returned to a – slightly smaller – screen forming a leading component in Netflix’s latest content release. And unlike its predecessor, this latest incarnation is receiving critical raves.

There are a number of reasons for this dramatic turnaround, but there is one major reason for increased viewership . . .

This latest incarnation told their audience not to watch it.

Now this is not a strategy that I would recommend for your average television show, movie or stage production. It works in this case because it ties in with the books’ central tenants about the reader experiencing a woeful tale that will ruin their life. But at the same time it has hit upon that innate desire to break the rules.

In all facets of the advertising campaign for this show, the viewers are essentially dared to have the courage to watch the show. By recommending that they don’t engage for the future happiness of their life depends upon it, they are set a rather simple rule to break. A defiance which is quite achievable, yet defiant enough to cause a rush of giddy excitement when you finally settle down to watch the one piece of entertainment which will most definitely ruin your life.

First impressions are everything and this means that audiences are already in a rush of heady excitement when they begin watching. Something which only the most carefully crafted opening sequence would dream to achieve. And that means the start of an enjoyable experience and ultimately some positive word of mouth off the back of it.

It should not be recommended in most cases, but when it is true to your product there is nothing wrong with recommending that your customers stay away!