Words by: Sean Allorde, Jonette Manalo, and MJ Viernes
Edited by: Victor Bisuña and Irish Gagalang
Art by: Victor Bisuña
Have you ever felt tired after working for so long, you just decided to open Netflix and unwind for a while? Whoever you are, we feel you!
In the past decade, Netflix has paved the way for a new age of on-demand media entertainment. What’s more: what you consume is your choice. As you browse through the various arrays of TV shows and movies curated according to your taste and preferences, you see Arcane, Squid Game, and Trese, which you’ve probably already heard of or watched as these shows generated quite the buzz this year!
Before you click play, let’s pause, rewind, and turn back time. How exactly did you come to know of these series? Well, that is a testament to the power of marketing! Now, let us take a closer look at the iconic marketing strategies of these TV series and how these contributed to their success in the Philippines and even around the globe!
We’ve got to hand it to Arcane — everything about this steampunk fantasy series is just so cool. Its story revolves around two League champions, sisters Jinx and Vi, in utopian Piltover and the oppressed underground of Zaun. Adapted from the famous multiplayer online battle arena (MOBA) game, League of Legends, the animated series has continuously maintained its position in Netflix's Top 10 in the Philippines while also continuing to trend on Twitter and Facebook.
For one, Arcane ads are everywhere online! These can be found from the big, mainstream sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Youtube, Tiktok) and even to low-key websites with few visitors. On the other hand, physical ads are strategically placed in buildings and billboards all over the world, such as in Moscow, New York’s Times Square, and UAE’s Burj Khalifa, among others. Undeniably, the company went all out to market Arcane!
In the Philippines, there aren’t that many notable physical ads for Arcane. Most promotions on the series happened online and inside games under the company (e.g. League of Legends; Wild Rift, Valorant, Teamfight Tactics). However, its popularity can be credited from the fact that the gaming community in the Philippines is immense and prevalent to begin with. On top of this, the laudable plot and animation style must be taken into consideration for Arcane’s success!
Beware, mugunghwa kkochi pieot seumnida (The roses of Sharon have blossomed). Along the busy streets of EDSA, a 10-foot doll wearing pigtails, a yellow top, and an orange dress, caught the attention of numerous passersby. Its head rotated back-and-forth, and its intimidating eyes glowed red as if it were about to shoot bullets. In the show Squid Game, the doll was the centerpiece of the first game: “Red Light, Green light” (deadly version) and the last person standing after all six games in the series gets 45.6 billion won, which is around 1.98 billion pesos.
This Squid Game doll installation was set in front of Robinsons Galleria along with various banners to promote the Netflix Original Series and monitor jaywalkers crossing the street. Just one wrong move and you’ll go “boom” — so make sure to watch your step and tread with caution! Don’t worry, no one was killed, but it was a sight that people who are at least familiar with Squid Game have learned to fear!
This was just one of the many strategies Netflix employed to ensure that the said series would be known and watched by more people. In fact, the series even boosted the number of Netflix’s subscribers as well as its profits! Of course, a lot of Filipinos already love K-culture, and Squid Game is no exception. However, amidst the children’s games and bright pastel aesthetics lies a darker theme that some of us have yet to uncover — which definitely helped make Squid Game a stand-out all around the globe.
Boo! If you had been to Metro Manila’s busy streets and highways last June, you would have surely seen those billboards and posters that were ripped and graffitied with ‘Siyudad namin ito’ and ‘Layas’! These cryptic messages were reported to be the doing of aswangs roaming around. Days after, the public was appalled upon seeing the ABS-CBN Headquarters – under the guise of ABS-ZNN, a fictional broadcast television network – being “taken over” by Trese. With these alone, we can definitely say that Trese has raised the bar when it comes to the generation of marketing campaigns in this contemporary world.
Now, you might be thinking: how was Trese able to develop with such a unique and powerful marketing tactic? Digging deeper on the origin of such marketing strategies, Netflix, in partnership with GIGIL – the agency behind many famous commercials such as RC Cola and Orocan – were trying to pull off a “maangas” vibe that touches on our own culture as they executed their well-thought advertising plans for this Filipino anime series. Coming from GIGIL’s Senior Art Director himself, JR Bumanglag, their greatest challenge was how they could “bring life to an animated world”.
With Trese representing Filipino pride in the media industry that showcases real-life scenarios experienced by common Filipinos, places that have been a part of our everyday lives, and the unique Filipino cultural ancestry, everyone has been very much excited with its release. Hence, they made use of the hype to come up with something that would ultimately get the public’s attention, and they definitely nailed it by portraying how Alexandra Trese’s enemies – the aswangs, manananggals, and tiyanaks – did not feel the same excitement for the show as much as we did. They gave life to these Filipino monsters just like how they continue to remain alive in our culture and beliefs.
Without a doubt, Trese has conquered not just the Philippine stage but the entire Netflix community across the globe. Due to “unconventional marketing”, the whole Trese team was able to gain traction and applause from its target audience. As a matter of fact, Trese debuted at #1 in the Philippines and at #10 in nineteen other countries on Netflix during its first week! The show also went viral on Philippine social media and generated a flood of positive feedback from fans. A new fandom has then grown since the show premiered, with members making memes and fan art, cosplaying, and adoring the show's protagonists, Alexandra Trese and her bodyguards: Crispin and Basilio!
Before we end, you may be wondering: “What do the three shows — Arcane, Squid Game, and Trese — mentioned have in common?” Aside from how these are all successful Netflix Original Series that premiered this 2021, their promotional strategies employed one of the fundamental rules of marketing, namely: know thy target market and be wherever they are.
At the start of this article, we mentioned the routine of a general Netflix user. In the marketing world, research is needed to determine the target market’s insight and routine. As we now spend most of our time online, Netflix is just one click away, and we can watch a variety of movies and shows on our own or with our loved ones — all in the safety and convenience of our homes. Although we still do go outside; hence, most marketing campaigns integrate physical and online executions, with an emphasis on the latter. It is through these platforms that a company can reach its target market, find ways to stand out, and get users. Think about it: once you try Netflix, you’re likely to push through with that subscription and this is what marketing wants to achieve!
Lastly, the success of these shows can be attributed not only to how it was marketed but also its storyline and production. So if you haven’t yet, take Arcane, Squid Game, and Trese as recommendations from yours truly!
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