How Netflix became the 1st brand to wade into the dangerous CAA territory

The BJP Govt. launched a toll-free number last week, for people to call and show their support to CAA.

I have no answer to why people should support something that has already been passed as a law; if someone disagrees with the law, they can show their disagreement, but support is an odd show of strength for a law, that too from a majority Govt. But that’s what it is.

The number was quickly hijacked by a lot of people.

People shared online that if you call this number, you can get free Netflix user ID and password. That you can indulge in a sex-chat with Sunny Leone. That you can vote for Virat Kohli as the cricketer of the decade. And so on. Who are these people? Try the ‘follow the money’ equivalent – who stands to gain from a LOT of people calling this toll-free number?

So far, no corporate brand has entered with their point of view on CAA, despite it making headlines every day. It’s a political minefield and hence, it is understandable that brands are silent. One brand took a super-smart side-swipe because they were directly being mentioned.

Netflix shared an incredibly clever retort, to dismiss their association with the toll-free number as fake. Do they need to do that in the first place? Not really. There is no official word from Netflix about any free offer. If people fall for a fake campaign, that’s entirely on them, not on Netflix. But Netflix waded into a territory that no brand has/had, till then – CAA. That’s a very bold move.

But they also added something that demonstrated an entirely different intent – humor.

Now, why do brands try to ride on trending topics? Because they can be visible amongst a lot of people (the tiny minority online, that is) and be on top-of-mind recall during a small period of time. Why this, again? So that when people are in a purchase-mode later/eventually, this brand comes to their mind, in context. Or, when they do advertise later, to actually persuade people to buy their products or services, they remember the brand in a positive frame of reference – something that made them smile, laugh, think, engage, etc.

The second sentence in Netflix’s response was the clincher. It was self-deprecating humor – a tone that Netflix India is already well known for. And that sentence was also rooted in an actual user insight – asking for Netflix user account details from friends and family is a very common behavior. A survey done by Pixights Consulting, in India, showed that over 70% respondents share their accounts of Netflix, Hotstar and Amazon Prime with others!

Such sharing hurts the streaming platform’s revenue, yet it happens. Does Netflix need to talk about it? Not really. But that is the brand’s tone, as it has been established. And that tone allows them to enter controversial territory too, with the confidence that they won’t be attacked from any side.

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