OITNB: know your audience,
give them what they want

The third season of Netflix’s Orange Is the New Black (OITNB) premieres this Friday, June 12th. Before we all disappear for 15 hours of glorious, uninterrupted binge-watching, let’s take a moment to (re)learn an important lesson from this show and its creators: know your audience, and give them what they want.

I am not talking about using big data to understand your audiences and engineer the perfect show(s) for them—although Netflix has done this, too, with excellent results. I am talking about how, in the year between seasons 2 and 3, the OITNB creative team has continued to produce and distribute OITNB-related content that responds to a simple audience request: more of the show, all of the time.

Orange Is The New Black user experience

Here are four pieces of content that have been used strategically to extend and amplify the OITNB brand experience:

1. The December 2014 Holidays at Litchfield video where the actors (in character, in costume, on set) wish their fans happy winter holidays by covering the ‘Twelve Days of Christmas’ song with a clear OITNB twist to the lyrics:


2. The #OnWednesdaysWeWearOrange hashtag, which creates an immersive experience by turning the spotlight onto all OITNB fans. Every Wednesday, the best/most representative images posted and tagged by fans wearing orange clothes and accessories are compiled together and re-posted on the main OITNB social media accounts:


3. The deliciously meta ’Stop, Don’t Talk to Me’ song cover that went viral last March, where (follow me) the cast sing their version of a song created by a few OITNB fans, who had been in turn inspired by a snippet of a song sung by one of the characters during an episode (I told you it was meta):


4. The various Facebook memes that feature characters and memorable quotes from  past episodes—and even a few teasers from upcoming ones. This is a perfect example of branded visuals that can be easily liked, shared and retweeted, increasing the ‘buzz’ around the show and the anticipation levels for the new season.

To sum up:

These days, consumers want and expect to interact with their favourite brands in more places, on different devices, and at all times. Brands who wish to stay relevant have already stopped thinking in terms of ‘one-offs’, and instead know how to create an ‘always-on’, continued, multi-layered, multi-platform experience for their audiences.

Get inspired by OITNB for your next brand experience strategy… and happy binge-watching weekend.


(First published on LinkedIn)