WWTD (What Would Tobias Do)

So I finally find the occasion to take a break from my MCM studies. With the reoccurring thought of Dr. Weintraub’s mantra of “take care, work hard, have fun” fresh on my mind, I felt it was necessary to enjoy some momentary respite. The CMGT 541 instructional materials for the week were reviewed, weekly readings were tackled, and the peer reviews for CMGT 597A were underway. After a solid 30 minutes of production, it was evident that a multiple hour break was necessary. 😉 Within a few clicks Netflix appeared and a menu of perfectly timed distractions were before me. Scrolling through the variety of recommendations, I stumbled across a particularly intriguing list of suggestions:


For the sake of full disclosure, this particular menu was not present on my personal Netflix menu, although I am a fan of Arrested Development (and do hope it captured your attention). With that aside, however; and more importantly, it is noteworthy to consider this method of marketing communication. Within its own distinct arrangement, and a means unique to Netflix, the company effectively exercised a method to jab (Vaynerchuk, 2013) its customers. Offering recommendations by genre, mood, or titles similar to content already viewed is commonplace and something viewers already expect. The simple method of further tailoring these recommendations via the use of fictional characters within the actual content already viewed, however; is outstanding. It’s native to its unique platform and the context (Vaynerchuk, 2013) it provides for its customers and the fans of particular content has generated a certain amount of buzz.  A number of bloggers have noted Netflix’s efforts and there’s a general online conversation occurring regarding these communications.

Whether or not a right hook (Vaynerchuk, 2013) will be deployed is yet to be seen; the recognition of these recommendations only seems to be noted within the last several days. Ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday, the anticipated new content coming to Netflix next month is also generating significant coverage, although its direct connection with this unique marketing effort in unclear.

Have you seen any Netflix recommendations offered in this way? I have yet to, although to be completely honest, I can’t remember the last time there was enough time to sit and watch a full movie in its entirety with all my studying (seriously…I’m serious!). I was intrigued when I came across, what think is a quite clever, undertaking by Netflix, and I’m curious what your thoughts may be –either the recommendations themselves presented in this way, or if its leading to something bigger?


Vaynerchuk, G. (2013). Jab, Jab, Jab, Right Hook: How to tell your story in a noisy, social world. New York: HarperCollins.

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5 Responses to WWTD (What Would Tobias Do)

  1. Stephanie says:

    Wow! When I saw that I thought, what a great but simple idea! I for once never look at recommendations from Netflix but something like this would definitely capture my attention. If they’re able to tailor these recommendations based on characters from shows that you frequently watch, how great would that be?

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Theodore says:

      Thank you, Stephanie. I’ve seen fictional characters directly promote products through other types of partnerships (e.g., Darth Vader with TomTom or Volkswagen) but I thought the simplicity of this idea to be ingenious and just as effective. I imagine the concept will eventually be used by other streaming content providers as well. Whether Amazon Prime, Hulu, or HBO GO, all the material viewed is monitored and catalogued, so this marketing communication method is just as applicable in any platform.

  2. Chanel says:

    I believe Amazon Prime does the same thing. It has a history of what you have watched and makes suggestions or recommendations as well (movies are my “me” time from school haha). This idea really reminded me of the live session where Michelle Mathews discussed big data and how corporations are gathering all this data on us (whether we are aware of it or not) and is creating marketing advertisements catered to our likes/dislikes and even our lifestyles (like how if you are a new parent). It’s both scary and exciting with the possibility of privacy issues but if I have to sit through an ad, I’d rather look at something I’m interested in and catered to me.

  3. Tina Powell says:

    Great blog post, Theo … and what a clever jab by Netflix! With your newfound knowledge (thanks to Gary Vaynerchuk), it’s fabulous that you recognized that a right hook couldn’t be far away. Regardless, as Gary says … when the jabs are really clever, meaningful or useful, you don’t mind when the right hook comes. I think a few more jabs like this and Netflix will have earned the right to make an ask.
    Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tyler says:

    Hi Theo,

    Great post! We are a Netflix home. I have noticed the titles, genre and mood (aka you might also like) feature. Like you, I’ve been a little busy the last year, but the Right Hook is probably right around the corner…In the form of a banner ad or button asking the viewer if he/she would you like to order papa johns pizza, beer, etc)… This feature reminds me a lot of Apple’s iTunes recommendations.

    Nice one!