“Have you seen Making a Murderer on Netflix?”
When we all returned to the office from the holiday break last week, that was the first question everyone asked each other. Nevermind the polite “how-was-your-holiday” chitchat, we all wanted to know the truth: Did you or did you not watch all 10 episodes of Making a Murderer?
In no time the verdict was in.
We were all guilty of binge-watching Netflix’s Making a Murderer, the 10-part documentary that details the trials and tribulations of Steven Avery.
While there’s enough sleuthing and conspiracy content on the web for Making a Murderer, we wanted to focus on what the show, as a whole, taught us. There was one genius move in this series that rose to the top for us marketers, and our Project Manager, Emily, pointed it out.
You won’t find this in a lengthy law textbook.
You won’t read about this in a whodunnit-theory thread.
It’s marketing and life lessons 101.
“The timing of when Making a Murderer was released was genius.” -Emily, Project Manager
Choose whatever side you will in the verdict of Steven Avery, but it we can all agree that it couldn’t have been released at a better time in the year. Perhaps, the most wonderful time of the year.
“Think about it: Making a Murderer came out right when everyone was sitting around during the holidays look for something to do.” -Emily, Project Manager
The Timing of Making a Murderer
While the Netflix series took 10 years to film, Making a Murderer was released at precisely the right time.
Right in the middle of the holiday season.
Right when people are cooped up in the house, sitting around and searching for a distraction.
“I remember sitting down on the Monday of our holiday break and thinking, ‘I am going to watch three hours of something today, I just don’t know what.’ And there it was.” -Emily, Project Manager.
It’s also that time of year when the world gathers and gossips with family and friends. So what better way to stir holiday conversations and add fuel to the family debate fires than a real-life crime drama?
Final Arguments: How the Making a Murderer Genius Happened
Even though we don’t have the evidence to back it up, maybe we can plant it. Just kidding. Kind of.
Anyway, here is our theory on how Making a Murderer rose to popularity due to timing:
The Early Adapters
In mid-December, Netflix addicts could not miss the 10 Making a Murderer episodes when they dropped on December 18th.
Streaming services have unlimited power to push whatever program they want. Making a Murder was showcased front and center on all Netflix platforms and although we cannot be certain, it was recommended to pretty much everyone on their “Recommend for You” feature.
If it wasn’t recommended, then chances are that other people saw something on social media about it, and decided to follow that trail.
Word of Mouth
Meanwhile, the non-early adapter crowd was shopping, stressing and working hard to close out the year before the Christmas holiday. These people were also furiously attending holiday parties at work and with friends. Drinks were being mixed. Minglers were mingling and conversations were flowing. Those early adapters and binge watchers from before now had the juiciest material for conversations that they boastfully passed onto others. At the end of those holiday parties, another layer of consumers were now influenced and convinced that they needed to start watching Making a Murderer, like that night. And they did.
This brings us up to the Christmas holiday. Enter family, enter travel and enter awkward conversations with relatives you hardly see. Only this time, it was acceptable to talk about Making a Murderer at the dinner table and while opening up presents.
Your great-aunt even heard of it.
Your younger cousins chimed in on how they started the it after Christmas Eve mass.
Your mom even asked for your Netflix password, which is actually hers from a few back.
(And we all know what happens to a product/service as soon as “mom” talks about it on Facebook — everyone must know about it by now.)
Over the holiday, the Making a Murderer wildfire had spread to the young and older generations. All these “newcomers” had the lull between Christmas and New Year’s Eve to watch Making a Murderer.
That’s so 2015
By New Year’s Eve, everyone in your conceivable circles knew about Steven Avery. If they didn’t, you immediately sent them home before midnight to start watching the series. By this time, you not only finished the show, but you successfully went down every “rabbit hole” thread on Reddit and read as many articles as you could find online.
Buzzfeed alone has articles covering everything from case details missed to which Wisconsin defense lawyer should be your boo.
The timing was perfect because people not only had time to watch it, but they had time to blog, post, tweet and share it. (Our favorite in particular is a tumblr dedicated to the #normcore style of attorney, and unlikely heartthrob, Dean Strang.) If you are social in any way, you couldn’t miss Making a Murderer.
Not every piece of content has the propensity to be propelled into the cultural consciousness so quickly, but a little bit of precise timing really went a long way for Making a Murderer. You’ll never forget how you spent the holidays in 2015 ever again. Just think, the Making a Murderer series hasn’t even been released for one month yet and it’s already a pop culture phenomenon.
Moral of the story? Next time you want a marketing effort to go “viral,” try releasing it in mid-December.