Netflix has given us some amazing sci-fi programming, so judging from Stranger Things, Sense8, and 3%, I’m assuming that its upcoming show (featuring another perplexing title) The OA is probably going to be pretty neat. Unfortunately, however, the show has already faced a pretty big setback in the form of this deeply ill-advised marketing campaign.
Earlier today, the streaming service’s official Twitter account began posting some strange shit. No, not like Denny’s Tumblr strange—more morose.
I mean it’s a corporate Twitter account, so these tweets are less outright creepy and more “just watched Donnie Darko for the first time,” but it was certainly weird enough to throw some folks off and generate that juicy intrigue. But then, Netflix posted a couple more tweets that were far more disturbing, including an eight-second video in the style of footage taken on a cameraphone of a woman running across traffic on a bridge. The woman, clad in a creepy pale satin dress, hops over the guardrail, and looks back at the camera. The person presumably behind the camera calls out “Don’t!” and instructs her child not to watch, and as as the woman on the bridge lets go and drops, the child in the car whispers, “She let go.”
WARNING: These videos contain disturbing images.
Shortly after, Netflix followed up again, posting the trailer forThe OA. It was already pretty clear that the whole train of increasingly disturbing tweets was part of a marketing campaign for the new show, but people were pissed.
A short video of a woman jumping off a bridge and presumably committing suicide is pretty messed up. Purposefully formatting the video so that it looked “realistic,” as if this really happened and a bystander randomly picked up their phone and started recording, using imagery associated with live trauma, is even more messed up. It’s reminiscent of that one time Amazon paid to have subways decked out in Nazi imagery as a promotion for its show The Man in the High Castle—just a marketing meeting gone completely wrong.
Netflix is successful enough that it does not have to rely on stunts like this to get people to watch its stuff (the Instagram for the show is much more compelling, anyway). It literally could have tweeted, “Hey guys did you like Stranger Things? Well here’s another show with a white lady in a light pink dress and a blonde wig like Eleven #TheOA.” It fits with a character to spare and is slightly less traumatizing than unexpectedly watching a woman jump off a bridge.
We’ve reached out to Netflix for comment and will update if we get a reponse.