Nosipho Dumisa’s Blood and Water had everything a YA fan could want: a vibrant world full of melodrama and intrigue, a soundtrack that felt like it came from the future, and a young, diverse cast eager to make their mark. What it needed, however, was visibility - with no established IP or existing fanbases to lean on, Netflix knew that they’d need to do something big to get the show on the right people’s radars. We agreed - and we knew just what to do.
If you want to earn the trust of YA audiences, you’ve got to speak their language - and in the case of Blood and Water’s audience, that language was the internet. So we designed a rich, nuanced social campaign anchored in a theme the show explored to great effect: gossip.
We started by partnering with hyper-relevant influencers - people whose co-signs would feel less like brand integrations and more like two young people talking about each other - to get the conversation started. Initially we focused on the South African audience, but as the fan responses kept rolling in, we started partnering with influencers in other markets to tap into the show’s universal youthful appeal. Then we put all the buzz we’d created to use by launching a social-forward trailer which gave audiences a taste of the property and gave the cast a star turn. From there, it was an all-out social media blitz as we released character portraits, gave talent unique cuts and Stories to share with their audiences, and kept fans hungry for more all the way up to the moment of premiere. And to keep the show’s momentum going after it dropped, we held an After-School Special roundtable with the cast later that weekend after audiences had managed to catch their breath.
We knew we’d struck a nerve when #BloodAndWater organically jumped to the top of South Africa’s Twitter trends as soon as the show premiered - but the show’s impact was only just beginning to reveal itself. Our campaign helped Blood and Water win over audiences around the world, becoming a #1 show for Netflix in over 30 countries before all was said and done. But perhaps the most important stat is the simplest: Blood and Water became Netflix SA’s first show to get a second season.
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