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The mysterious “Netflix is a joke” campaign that had Americans scratching their heads this summer has finally been explained.
Billboards in New York and Los Angeles popped up across the two cities in the last month, proclaiming on a white background in big black letters Netflix “is a joke”. It was the kind of self-deprecating, ironic statement that a marketing department would love to put out in 2017, as the streaming service capitalises on the backlash from the traditional entertainment industry in response to its growing original TV and movie business. And, sure enough, the campaign turned out to be an inside job, all designed to highlight Netflix’s line-up of top stand-up comedians.
Netflix has increasingly invested in stand-up comedy from huge names, signing deals with Chris Rock, Ellen DeGeneres, Jerry Seinfeld and Dave Chapelle, not to mention Louis C.K., Amy Schumer and Tracy Morgan. And so the campaign culminated in a video aired at the Emmy Awards designed to showcase all of that talent: the special consists of a Rock, Seinfeld, Chapelle and DeGeneres neatly cut into existing scenes from Netflix shows, as they interact with characters and interrupt scenes, from House of Cards to The Crown. Does it announce any new stand-up specials that we haven’t told you about before? No, but it does remind you just how many stars have stepped from behind the mic and onto the streaming platform. Netflix is a joke? When it comes to comedy, they’re the ones laughing.
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