On December 15, 2015, Netflix hijacked the Republican Candidate Presidential Debate on CNN to build anticipation for the upcoming fourth season of "House of Cards". Prior to the broadcast of the debate, Netflix turned to Twitter and Snapchat, teasing fans that 'President Underwood will be making a special announcement tonight'. It then aired an ad during the first hour of the program which led viewers to FU2016.com.
The parody advertisement came in the form of a fictional campaign video for Kevin Spacey's character President Frank Underwood along the hashtag #FU2016. The trailer also announced that the new season of "House of Cards" will premiere on Netflix on March 4, 2016. On the interactive campaign website, fans are welcomed by a short message from Frank Underwood himself and can learn more about his fictional campaign.
Furthermore, fans are encouraged to speak their mind by creating personalized 'FU' cards to share on social media. Alternatively, they can also show support by posting 'I stand with Frank Underwood' on either Twitter or Facebook, by subscribing to an e-mail-newsletter, or by downloading a media kit featuring social media headers, a campaign poster, bumper stickers and more.
A news reel at the bottom of the website features links to the latest campaign trail images as well as to all "House of Cards" social media accounts. Both the website and the television ad were created for Netflix as part of a broader promotion campaign by New York-based agency Bartle Bogle Hegarty.
Moreover, all sections of the website can also be accessed using the fly-out menu at the top. Hidden within the menu is an easter egg: fans who click on 'Meet Claire Underwood' receive the error message 'Claire not found' - a reference to the last scene of season three in which Claire tells Frank she is leaving him.
Nicole Greiner is a research analyst at VAST MEDIA, a media research and consulting company based in Berlin that provides international television industry leaders with qualitative competitive market analysis of digital entertainment and content marketing.