Netflix yesterday launched Netflix Canada. Present at the Toronto launch were members of the public who happened upon the event and gotten really excited about Netflix. The only problem was that these weren't people who were in the area and decided to stop by the event to see what was going on. No no, these were actors hired by Netflix to pretend to act excited about the launch of Netflix Canada, and these people were told to act especially excited if approached by members of the press covering the event.
The Globe and Mail reports that these people were told to spill onto the streets as the news conference was getting started. In the instructions from Netflix, actors were told to play certain roles, such as mothers, film buffs, tech geeks or couch potatoes and to "act really excited if approached by the media" for an interview.
Steve Swasey, vice president of corporate communications yesterday apologized for the botched stunt, admitting that Netflix "blew it," but insisting it was all just a mistake. Swasey says the actors were hired to take part in a corporate video about the launch, but were mistakenly given instructions to talk to the press.
"The launch included the shooting of a corporate video with some hired extras, who, it turns out, were given improper direction to talk with the news media about their enthusiasm for the Netflix service," Swasey said in a blog post. "This was a mistake and was not intended to be part of our launch plan. Simply put: we blew it."
To be fair to Netflix, the handout given to extras and obtained by the Globe and Mail does detail a shoot for a corporate video, and includes instructions for boosting the confidence of real bystanders who are too shy to ask their own questions. However, it does also tell them to give excited interviews to the media if provided with the opportunity, which is a little more misleading than say, having plants in the audience to ask, "What is streaming?" and "When can I sign up?"
Swasey says it wasn't the company's intention to mislead the media or the public and apologized for giving Canadians any reason to doubt the service.