How Netflix’s marketing strategy for Wednesday blew up

“Wednesday,” premiered exactly a month ago on November 23rd. The ‘Addams Family’ spin off quickly climbed Netflix’s rankings to become its second most-watched English-language show, amassing 1.19 billion hours of viewing among 176 million households in its first 28 days (compared to 1.35 billion hours for the most recent season of “Stranger Things” during the same period) according to Netflix. The difference is that Stranger Things has benefited from six years of growth whereas Wednesday began its marketing journey only a couple of months ago. Netflix’s marketing team clearly bet big on the pig-tailed terror from the jump.

A huge factor to play into its popularity is nostalgia. The Addams Family has been on our screens since 1964 and saw another reprise in the 1990s with beloved child actress Christina Ricci playing Wednesday. The Netflix spin-off, which centres on the Addams’ daughter who attends a fantastical school, is emblematic of the very modern ways the streamer promotes its properties—social media virality, immersive fan interactions and stunt marketing.

The “Wednesday” Twitter account, which has over 220,000 followers as of writing, has been a consistent point of fan interaction for the show, a trend evolved from the success of brand mascot accounts to those representing specific characters, such as for Paramount Pictures’ promotion of the revived “Scream” film franchise. The “Wednesday” account allows the macabre schoolgirl to comment on trending pop culture events, including the Emmy Awards, as well as share short videos that the marketing team filmed with star Jenna Ortega.

One such example sees a video of Ortega as Wednesday commenting on the Emmys and how, in her opinion, it’s an empty search for validation in typical Addams style. Cleverly, the marketing team strategized around events that coincided with the show’s premiere to expand Wednesday and friends’ voices beyond fan-specific interaction. For Thanksgiving travellers, custom TSA bins at airports featured Addams’ portrait with the message, “No sharp objects? What a shame.” And a custom spot showed the character condemning Black Friday’s exploitation of her favourite colour for a “pathetic marketing ploy.”

Wednesday’s dismembered-hand sidekick Thing even made an appearance, wearing a beret, at the red carpet premiere of the third season of “Emily in Paris,” an example of how Netflix is cross-promoting its shows.

So far, the hashtag “Wednesday” has gained over 25 billion views on TikTok as of writing. A clip of Wednesday Addams performing a bizarre dance routine at a school dance inspired TikTokers to replicate the sequence, but not to the show’s soundtrack (“Goo Goo Muck” by The Cramps). The social trend instead took off to the sound of Lady Gaga’s 2011 song “Bloody Mary,” which isn’t part of the “Wednesday” soundtrack. 

Since being linked to “Wednesday,” Gaga’s song has taken off in a similar vein to the revival of Kate Bush’s “Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)” after it was used in “Stranger Things.” “Bloody Mary,” which wasn’t originally a single on Gaga’s album “Born This Way,” entered the Billboard Global Top 200 chart for the first time, exploding 509% in on-demand global streams and over 1100% in sales during the show’s first week on Netflix, according to Billboard. One sped-up remix of “Bloody Mary” is the soundtrack for 2.5 million videos on TikTok.

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