Power to the People

If anything proves the power of the consumer voice, the Netflix flip-flop does. In the company’s official statement, CEO Reed Hastings says, “There is a difference between moving quickly – which Netflix has done very well for years – and moving too fast, which is what we did in this case.”

The statement doesn’t get too specific, but it looks like in the company’s haste to secure a position in the growing and extremely competitive market for streaming content, Netflix took its eye off the target: the customer.

We may never know what the execs at Netflix were thinking. Someone there must have thought about the possibility that customers would find the extra ‘work’ a bit annoying. Maybe they thought they weren’t asking that much. They obviously really underestimated the results of such a move.

Remember the KISS rule for writing copy? Keep it Simple, Stupid. It was what Steve Jobs did so well. He kept his products simple to use and created a need we didn’t even know we had. Kind of like Starbucks, too.  If someone had asked me 15 years ago if I would pay $3 for a cup of coffee, I would have laughed.

As for Netflix, they did the right thing keeping the websites together, finally listening to its consumers who said read my lips, keep it simple, stupid. The verdict’s still out, but we’ll find out if that’s enough to keep the romance going.

Netflix F*x Up

What were they thinking? First Netflix hikes prices for DVD mail-outs and online streaming a few months back, then they decide to apologize by video. In the PR world a sincere apology by a CEO is usually a good move, but this one bombed.

Netflix co-founder and CEO Reed Hastings started out his blog apology by saying “I messed up.” But then he royally messed up again by explaining that he was dividing the company products into two separate businesses with the DVD service now called Qwikster. Yes, that’s Qwikster with a “w.”

Let’s rewind. Here’s what I would have suggested Reed do:  keep the “I messed up” line and then lower prices to gain back the trust of consumers. And I would never, ever have come up with a name like Qwikster. In PR, where there’s print, digital and broadcast, you never want a name that consumers might mistake for another. In this case, Quickster. And why another techy-sounding brand name? Haven’t we had enough already?

Huffington Post writer Jason Gilbert wryly commented, “Hey Qwikster, 1991 called, it wants its radical new company name back.”

So, this means two separate websites for those of us who want both mailed DVDs and the ability to stream. What a pain in the tush!

Reed might be brilliant by dividing the company so that he can jettison Qwikster qwickly as streaming video becomes the deliver du jour, but in the meantime, he’s got lots of angry subscribers who are both confused by the name and by the two services they now need to keep track of.

Who knows, maybe cable and movie theaters with popcorn and slushees will be the big beneficiaries here. I sure hope so.