Netflix’s shock value altered carbon campaign voted most innovative media plan

Adweek honours Netflix for its unusual campaign featuring lifelike human bodies on billboards.

A human body encased in plastic is not something one sees very often, not even by Hollywood’s unusual standards.

Adweek honoured Netflix for the most innovative media plan of the year. The dystopian Netflix series Altered Carbon works on a simple premise, 300-plus years in the future, people can download the entirety of their experiences into new bodies, extending their lives indefinitely.

Armed with that backstory and several interactive sculptures so meticulously lifelike that they appeared to be breathing, Mediahub, a division of MullenLowe, went about setting up a public “marketplace” for these bodies.

“With all of our campaigns, we strive to find unique and creative ideas that really stand out,” says Netflix vp of marketing and consumer products Shauna Spenley.

“For Altered Carbon, we asked ourselves, ‘If a campaign for bodies existed in the year 2384, what would its marketing look like?’ and used that as a guiding force for all campaign touch points.” The first step in the process was figuring out where these futuristic figures might live.

“We knew we could do it, but many places won’t let you; West Hollywood was one that would,” said Simeon Edmunds, vp of Mediahub’s R+D Lab, adding that passersby in this area are not “easily shocked.”

Mediahub worked with West Hollywood officials, poring over blueprints to find major intersections that attract the maximum number of curious onlookers.

“Even people who drove by stopped to take pics,” said vice president, associate media director Alli Blender.

The Netflix team also attached cables to the bodies in preparation for the possibility of viewers trying to cut through the plastic and steal them.

The bus shelter advertisements alone received 15 million earned impressions many driven by organic conversations on social media and local reports in which anchors were puzzled about these strange billboards.

A full national media campaign followed.

“Through meticulous detail and a variety of in-world concepts, we were able to literally stop people in their tracks when they experienced the placements,” says Spenley.

“Every campaign is different in terms of overall effectiveness, but what stood out for Altered Carbon was the fact that news of these bodies traveled beyond both the 1-to-1 interaction and cities where we bought media.”

“Having bus shelters discussed on the 6 o’clock news is a shining example of cutting through the clutter,” said Edmunds. “Any brand on any level would consider that a success.” Perhaps most importantly, Netflix renewed Altered Carbon for a second season in July.

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