Stunt Work: Netflix and Coffee

Last fall, Netflix launched a long-awaited revival of the popular television series Gilmore Girls. The original series ran from 2000 to 2007 to critical acclaim and an Emmy for makeup in 2004. The original popularity of the show, combined with a new generation of fans converted via Netflix, made this revival a Very Big Deal.

“Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life” consisted of only four episodes, but those episodes had some big expectations to meet. The reboot was first confirmed in January of 2016, after Lauren Graham, one of the two main stars, tweeted the news. The Internet immediately went crazy.

Netflix capitalized on all this hype in an extraordinary way. Gilmore Girls tells the story of Lorelei Gilmore, who had a daughter when she was 16, and her now 16-year-old daughter, Rory, so it only made sense to celebrate the series’ 16th birthday – which conveniently fell a month before the revival was scheduled to hit Netflix.

To celebrate, Netflix staged a “takeover” of 200 cafés across the country, transforming them into the iconic Gilmore Girls hangout “Luke’s Diner.” For one day only, fans could get free coffee from “Luke’s.” The cup came with a decal – opening the Snapchat app and taking a picture of the decal would open the sponsored “Luke’s Diner” filter and allow the user to apply the filter to any Snapchat photos for one hour. According to AdWeek, the one-day stunt reached more than 500,000 people, and the filter was viewed 880,000 times. Lauren Johnson’s October 25, 2016 AdWeek article, “Netflix’s Gilmore Girls Pop-up Coffee Shops Were a Massive Hit on Snapchat,” went on to explain that this is part of Snapchat’s new product, Snap to Unlock, which gives advertisers free Snapcodes with their purchase of a location-based filter. These Snapcodes, when printed, lead users to a Snapchat filter – and provide data on exactly how many people a Snapchat campaign reaches.

What Netflix did well:

Timing. The 16th anniversary of the show’s pilot episode was the perfect excuse for this type of stunt. The month in-between the stunt and the revival’s Netflix release gave everyone time to either hear about the show or get more excited. Having the event be only one day long prevented people from getting sick of hearing about it.

Setting. 200 cafés across the country participated and became “Luke’s.” This allowed much more exposure than one location, and played into the “local” feel of the diner in the show.

Social media. People love Snapchat. People love Snapchat filters. The filter incorporated the cute, nostalgic logo from the show, and included information about the revival.

Knowing their audience. Gilmore Girls fans know of the love the main characters have for coffee and their local hangout. This stunt demonstrated a clear understanding of both the show itself and what would resonate with fans.

What could have been better:

Cost. This must have set Netflix back a lot. I’m sure it was worth it, but a lot of detail went into this plan. I’d be very interested to know if they struck some kind of partnership with Snapchat, or if they paid for the filters in full. It seems like both benefitted from the event, but between the café decorations, the amount of planning and travel employees must have put in, and all the free coffee, this was no small promotion.

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