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Netflix and GM to promote electric vehicles, with Will Ferrell in Super Bowl spot

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By Kendra Barnett | Senior Reporter

February 2, 2023 | 7 min read

The streaming giant says electric vehicles from various brands will begin appearing in Netflix-produced programming. A joint campaign launching this month to promote the initiative includes a Super Bowl spot fronted by Will Ferrell.

Electric vehicle charging

Netflix originals will soon feature more electric vehicles on screen / Adobe Stock

Netflix and General Motors (GM) today announced a new partnership that focuses on promoting electric vehicle (EV) adoption by spotlighting EVs in Netflix-produced programs.

The agreement is the result of a meeting between Netflix CMO Marian Lee and GM CMO Deborah Wahl that took place about a year ago. Wahl, in a press briefing, explained that both execs were trying to answer a similar set of questions: “How do we keep rewriting the marketing playbook for our businesses? How can we have a big cultural impact?”

The two were seeking an intersection that would prove mutually beneficial for their businesses and for the world. “[We were asking ourselves,] if we look at our strengths, is there a way that we can team up together so that we can merge and really influence culture as we look at … all the things that are good for our business and good for the world?” said Wahl.

Netflix’s Lee explained that the partnership was an organic fit from the get-go. “For us at Netflix, this was really a no-brainer,” she said. “We want to create joy for our members. It’s a foundation for everything we do. And we want our partnerships to provide value to our partners, and to give Netflix the opportunity to engage new and existing fans through creative storytelling and campaigns. And, given our support for a more sustainable future, this partnership with GM made complete sense.”

Netflix creatives will be given fairly free rein on how and when EVs appear

Through the new program, Netflix will spotlight electric vehicles of all sorts – not only GM models – in its original programming.

GM’s Wahl claimed that the deal is part of a “strategic alliance” and does not include paid product placements. Throughout the next year, however, GM EVs – including Chevrolet Bolt EUV, GMC Hummer EV and Cadillac Lyriq – will appear in select Netflix programs.

In fact, Netflix creatives will be given fairly free rein on how and when EVs appear in their shows and movies. Lee said that a dedicated team will provide educational information and briefings on the new ‘EVs On Screen’ initiative, but that directors and showrunners will get to determine how an EV might fit into their story organically. Then, Netflix will aid in determining the appropriate vehicle types and sourcing vehicles as needed.

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Will Ferrell to star in Super Bowl ad

To promote the initiative, the brands have teamed up on a joint ad campaign featuring actor Will Ferrell that will air during Super Bowl LVII on February 12. The campaign includes a 60-second hero film as well as a number of abbreviated versions of the spot that see Ferrell navigating a GM EV through various scenes of popular Netflix titles – from the cult favorite Stranger Things and unscripted programs like Love Is Blind to Squid Game, which is, to date, the most popular Netflix title ever. (Lee noted that GM EVs have already been featured in Love Is Blind and Queer Eye.)

“We really wanted to tap into the fandom for these shows with this spot,” said Lee. And what better forum than the Big Game? “The Super Bowl … is the biggest sports moment in culture and we wanted to show up alongside GM in a really interesting way. This is a great opportunity… for two companies to really come together to make an impact in our respective businesses.”

For both brands, the deal marks the start of a committed relationship. “This is a long-term partnership … there’s no end date in our mind,” said Lee. “This continues to build on both of our companies’ desire for a more sustainable future.”

The new deal builds on Netflix’s broader sustainability commitments, which include halving its carbon emissions by 2030, investing in carbon capture technologies, as well as funding and producing entertainment programming that focuses on advancing climate awareness and justice.

Ultimately, Lee and Wahl agree that the overarching goal of the new partnership is to demystify EVs for everyday consumers. Vehicles in Netflix programming, Lee assured, will be depicted in a variety of ways and may even highlight the attendant challenges of adapting to EV ownership and an electric-focused future. But the goal at the end of the day is to communicate to real people the benefits and value of switching to more environmentally friendly vehicles.

“We’re working together to create a blueprint for the whole entertainment industry on how to think about normalizing EVs and showcasing this all-electric future,” said Wahl, “because we all know it’s good for all of us if we accelerate that transition.”

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