As the Fall television season begins, viewers will see familiar stalwarts, like Survivor, The Voice and Dancing with the Stars, along with new shows generating buzz, like Quantico and Blood and Oil. But, many of the Fall shows have been preempted by another show, Narcos, which details the rise of Pablo Escobar and the Medellin Cartel, and which debuted over a month ago on Netflix.
The show's topic alone is an alluring draw, having been featured previously in movies, shows, documentaries, and even in fictional movies within shows. Netflix promoted the show through ordinary advertising, including a flashy trailer and posters with catchy one-liners, like, "There's no business like blow business." One of Netflix most interesting pieces of marketing was a partnership with The Wall Street Journal to create an intricate, lengthy, and interactive promo called "Cocainenomics."
The ad, which can be found on the WSJ website, is split into six sections, describing Pablo's rise and his brutal methods, along with the external factors that helped lead to his ascent, which included cocaine becoming "the disco era’s drug of choice and Wall Street’s drug of power." The ad displays graphics detailing the current cocaine trade, which stretches around the world, and the current trade into the United States, which is dominated by another massive and violent cartel, this time based in the Mexican state of Sinaloa.
The feature finishes with details of Medellin today, including an informative and optimistic six minute video, which shows how far the city has come since violence racked the streets for years during Pablo's reign. For those with a little more time on their hands, the interactive ad allows visitors to take a short, ten question test (with bonus clips) to determine whether they are truly an expert in "Cocainenomics."
I doubt most would comprehensively read every section, but the ad is clever, providing informative details about the man (Pablo Escobar) and country (United States) who have most helped to fuel the astonishing growth of the cocaine trade. And as the show oscillates between fictional scenes and archival footage of real events, in order to demonstrate its authenticity, the advertising feature adds another layer to that effort and fits well within the confines of the show.