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GoodandBadPR: Netflix and VW (Bet you can’t guess which way around!)

1st October 2015


Good PR

If you pop "Netflix" into a Google News search, you'll see a load of stories appear that are testament to the streaming-services' PR team's hard work and creative brains.

You've probably heard the "Netflix and chill" expression several hundred times, which is fast replacing the "Wanna come round for a DVD and takeaway?" chat up line; you know, being code for "casual sex to background noise". The social media sphere has erupted with memes, GIFs, Vines and other shareable content related to the "Netflix and chill" phrase, so it was only a matter of time before the Netflix PR team cashed in and got fully on-board with the idea.

That happened this week, when it was announced the Netflix had created what was essentially a Netflix and chill button. "The Switch", as it's been called, is allegedly a simple piece of kit connected to a Particle Core (yes, I had to Google it too – it's a basic computer that triggers a handful of actions when you press a button). This one can dim the lights (for the chilled feeling), turn on the TV and fire up Netflix (because you don't want your flatmate overhearing what's about to happen) and even orders your pizza (for afterwards, to replenish those erotically-burned calories).

There's a step-by-step guide that Netflix has launched for people to build their own DIY Netflix and chill buttons. Genius!

I've witnessed this story going absolutely everywhere, from the Metro, Gizmodo and CNET to The Guardian and further afield. I haven't got my hands on the press release Netflix put out about this, but I bet there was no mention of "Netflix and chill" in it (there isn't on the landing page for "The Switch" anyway), so I love how the brand just alluded to that by calling the device "The Switch" and telling people what it could do. Pure brilliance.

Bad PR

Volkswagen has what can only be described as a total PR nightmare on its hands, after it was revealed that millions of its diesel vehicles around the world were fitted with software which conned testers into thinking that their vehicles met environmental standards.

This could lead to one of the biggest vehicle recalls the world has ever seen. The Environmental Protection Agency said that as many as 482,000 of Volkswagen's 2009-15 models in America were fitted with the software, which was so sophisticated that it switches engines to a cleaner mode when they undergo official testing. How very devious! In actual fact, many of the vehicles had emissions far above the limits set.

The VW CEO Martin Winterkorn resigned following the news, despite saying that he had no knowledge of the manipulation of emissions results, and now faces investigation. German prosecutors will look into "allegations of fraud in the sale of cars with manipulated emissions data".

Details of the affected cars will be released and, apparently, a self-serve process for customers will be set up for them to check if their vehicle is affected by the "cheat" software.

Some Audi, SEAT and Skoda vehicles are also thought to be affected and the German manufacturer (which is the number one global carmaker in terms of sales) has set aside 6.5billion Euros for whatever repercussions will come its way, which could include $18bn in potential fines.

This is very, very bad (in case you weren't getting that impression already). The news is absolutely everywhere (as in, global) and I've seen stories on the BBC, Financial Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters and more. Something tells me that Mr Winterkorn (and whoever was behind the dodgy software) won't be doing any Netflix and chilling anytime soon; they'll have much bigger fish to fry.

Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis, @ShazzaYeti on Twitter

Seen any good or bad PR recently, you know what to do, @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10yetis.co.uk on email.



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