Netflix’s ‘Bird Box’ & The Power of Marketing

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If you haven’t heard of Bird Box, well, where have you been? Netflix’s most recent post-apocalyptic film made its debut on December 21st, not exactly your typical holiday friendly film. However, that didn’t stop over 45 million accounts from watching within the first 7 days after its release, according to Netflix. Upon Bird Box’s debut, the streaming giant released trailers and movie posters to generate awareness about the upcoming film, but their efforts didn’t end there.

Marketing Tactics

Whether intentional or not, there were several marketing tactics used to hype up this film that, for some reason, made a huge impact on viewers regardless of its mediocre execution.


Whether intentional or not, there were several marketing tactics used to hype up this film that, for some reason, made a huge impact on viewers regardless of its mediocre execution. With a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, 6.7/10 on IMDb and 51%on Metacritic, the film’s buzz was heavily due to marketing efforts rather than actual storyline quality. Here’s how Netflix used the power of marketing and social media to increase viewership and popularity. (Image courtesy of Netflix)


Release of Viewer Statistics

Netflix is notorious for keeping audience statistics private because all in all, they don’t really matter. The streaming giant makes money off its perceived popularity, not its viewers. After the first week of Bird Box’srelease, however, Netflix tweeted “Took off my blindfold this morning to discover that 45,037,125 Netflix accounts have already watched Bird Box – best first 7 days ever for a Netflix film!” This was the first time they have ever revealed viewer data, which leads to the question… why?


From a marketing perspective, the answer is simple. They wanted to stir up conversation and make people feel like they needed to watch it. Revealing that over 45 million accounts watched the film in the first week created a sense of urgency to watch among viewers, purely out of FOMO. It made people who haven’t watched feel out of the loop with what’s popular and trending, and they just can’t have that. Strategically, this was a brilliant move on Netflix’s part as it increased conversation between audience members and sent viewership through the roof.



The power of memes played a major part in the success and popularity of this film. The week after its release, Bird Box broke the internet and almost instantly became a meme. Many people poked fun at the movie by creating relatable memes with clever captions, and others began participating in the “Bird Box Challenge.” The movie soon became all anyone could talk about, and Netflix took advantage of the conversation. Many believe the memes were initially created by Netflix itself, lighting the spark for viewers to take matters into their own hands. However, Netflix quickly denied these claims.


Regardless of where the memes started, the streaming giant was all for it. They often turned to social media to continue the conversation and even created GIFs in some of their posts to promote scenes from the movie as relatable and trendy. This in turn created a sense of urgency for viewers to watch so they could be part of the conversation.


Timing of Release

While there are many working parts, a movie’s success is partly due to the time of release. Netflix released Bird Box during the holiday season, not exactly when you expect to see a sci-fi thriller. In a time where an endless number of holiday films were circulating, releasing a movie that is the complete opposite of festive was a bold move by Netflix. And it clearly worked. In an interview with Wired, film and contemporary media researcher Jeffery Schieble states “timing is a key factor here – Christmas is known as prestige movie season, and people are home for the holidays, off from work, and it’s cold outside, so there are more reasons to stay in.”


Netflix chose the perfect time to release this sci-fi thriller. Not only were more people available to watch, but it gave viewers an alternative option of something non-holiday related. In a sea of festivity pops up something anything but. And that got noticed.


The Power of Marketing

With average reviews and a mediocre execution, one of the main questions you should be asking is, how does a not so great movie become all anyone can talk about? Marketing efforts. Whether it’s promoting a product, service, movie or TV show, the success of whatever it is you are trying to deliver typically boils down to two things: positioning and messaging. And for Bird Box, Netflix seemed to nail down a strategy that worked.


If you watched Bird Box (or just like seeing memes, because let’s be real, who doesn’t) check out some of our favorites below!




Bird Box Challenge gone wrong:

“It’s just a speed bump”

Someone has to look…

Malorie after rowing down the river:

Boy and Girl when they arrived at the Sanctuary: