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Brand Strategy Netflix Branded Content

How Headspace is capitalizing on the halo effect from partnering with Netflix


By Hannah Bowler, Senior reporter

July 18, 2023 | 5 min read

At the height of the lockdown, the mindfulness app teamed up with Netflix for a branded series that resulted in a massive spike in sign-ups and a renewed content marketing strategy.

Headspace A Guide To Meditation on Netflix

Headspace Guide To Meditation on Netflix / Headspace

In January 2021, Netflix dropped its first branded content series, Headspace Guide To Meditation, following it up soon after with Headspace Guide To Sleep. Over two years later, audiences are still discovering the shows or coming back to them for repeat viewing, says Headspace's chief content officer Morgan Selzer.

“We’ve just seen such a big halo effect from being on Netflix,” she tells The Drum. “We’ve also received so much wonderful feedback from people who found us on the Netflix show and learned about meditation and having a mindfulness practice or really good sleep hygiene, which has led them to subscribe to Headspace.”

Since forging the partnership, Headspace has seen a 70% spike in sign-ups to the app.

Selzer comes from a TV production background and in her previous career followed the notion that audiences had to see a promo for a show 20 times before they would think to record it or watch it. She carries this same thinking into strategy at Headspace.

“We're really looking for ways we can show up in various content ecosystems, whether that's on Netflix, while you're listening to a Headspace podcast, catching a video on YouTube or engaging on social. The idea is to whet people’s appetite, teach them about the brand and teach them about mindfulness, which can be really scary for some people, and show them that Headspace is a tool that can really help.”

Headspace is the original mindfulness app, set up over a decade ago, but now there are a plethora of similar offerings in the marketplace, from Calm to The Meditation App to Simple Habit and Breethe.

“Our biggest struggle is less about having other meditation apps or competitors, it's about how we can figure out ways in which we can show up and people's days.”

Her approach is to use content to spark people’s interest and drive subscriptions. Partnerships with the likes of Kevin Heart, John Legend, Sesame Street and the National Parks Foundation are tent poles of Selzer’s strategy at play. Sesame Street meditation videos, for example, have racked up over 43 million views.

In the UK, Headspace has also signed up England and Manchester City footballer Raheem Sterling as an ambassador till 2022.

Partnerships with brands is also an increasingly important part of the marketing mix for Selzer. She inked the collaboration with Starbucks that featured four Headspace ‘Mindful Moments’ in the coffee chain's app, five bespoke pieces of mindfulness content and a free trial to Headspace hosted on a co-branded microsite. The partnership exceeded Headspace's new user sign-up benchmark four times over, while also doubling the number of signups and engagement with Starbucks employees.

For these deals, Selzer says it can either be “like-minded brands that have a different audience but who might not know about Headspace” so that it can teach them about the app, or more unexpected partnerships, which she says are fun and interesting. “It's about how we can do things that feel buzzy, that feel outside of the box, and which make people kind of pause and think, 'oh, wow, what is this?' There's so much out there, so many activations, so many partnerships, so many pieces of content, so it's about how do you stand out from the rest?”

To capture younger subscribers Headspace most recently teamed up with Snapchat to launch 'Headspace Mini', a place within the app where friends could practice meditation and mindfulness exercises. In its first month of being live, over five million people engaged with Headspace Mini on Snapchat.

"It's a crowded marketplace, but I feel like Headspace is a differentiator in that we have figured a way to take something that can be quite scary and quite overwhelming for a lot of people and make it really simple and digestible and easy to understand," Selzer concludes.

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