Before I went to Netflix in April of 2020, I had never been in a role directly mapped to marketing. Throughout my career I’ve launched plenty of products — at big companies, startups, and even on my own — but “marketing org” was something new for me. Initially, I wasn’t even sure if I wanted to take the meeting (I’ve always seen myself a lifelong content business development and strategy guy, after all), but when I heard the job of Head of Anime, Editorial & Publishing involved massive amounts of strategy, tons of producing (both directly and leading others), and lots of working cross-functionally to get teams fired up, I was sold.
The mission was simple: “Make anime big at Netflix.” Ultimately, a lot of people would come to watch anime on service and talk about it off service, and I think it’s been a success. Let’s look back on what I feel was an incredible run.
BY THE NUMBERS:
First off, being a part of the cross-functional team which grew the number of households who watched at least one anime title on Netflix by 50% to over 100 million (Oct 2019 – Sept 2020), was an early exciting achievement for everyone (Source: Netflix website).
As of today, Netflix Anime YouTube has over 1 million subscribers (and nearly 190 million video views), Netflix Japan Anime Twitter over 265K followers, and Netflix Anime Twitter nearly 60K followers. While these are numbers on the dedicated anime channels are a huge win, it’s just as exciting to see the anime thriving, fruits of all the outreach efforts, on social channels like Netflix Geeked, The Most, Netflix France, Netflix Brazil, Netflix Thailand, and so many other places.
Netflix Anime YouTube was a passion project of mine. Browse it, and you might notice videos that have multiple audio tracks, community tab posts in multiple languages, and a general “hacker” approach to building a global community I think no other YouTube channel in the world has.
Leading a team with such big goals meant taking lots of big swings. Looking back, it’s pretty incredible what we were able to do creatively in a relatively short time.
To celebrate Netflix Fighting Anime, I reached out to Stan Bush, artist behind iconic songs in The Transformers: The Movie, Bloodsport, Kickboxer, and more. “Born to Fight” intercuts scenes from BAKI and Kengan Ashura with footage Stan getting ready to fight. Somehow, we made this totally outlandish music video happen!
I saw Sailor Moon as a key IP with a huge nostalgia factor, so I raised my hand to personally lead the creative marketing campaign on Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon: The Movie. Ultimately, the creative suite was a key tool in opening up anime on Netflix channels that had never covered anime before, thus growing the pie.
To try and be a closer part of the anime community, I saw VTubers (“Virtual YouTubers”) as a new way to communicate with fans, so my team and I developed N-ko with an agency and launched her across several formats. Many fans appreciated we were trying something new, and some even wanted to marry N-ko! More on Netflix Newsroom.
I saw The Witcher: Nightmare of the Wolf as a gateway to expand anime fandom, again raising my hand to lead creative development of the marketing campaign. Drawing on my fantasy fandom, anime knowledge, and audience-first brief-writing skills, we had a highly engaged campaign that helped the film pop. More on my post-launch celebration write up.
I wanted to find a way to let anime fans’ voices be better heard, so I partnered with Anime Trending to adapt their polling format into a show hosted by Anime YouTubers. Netflix x Anime Trending evolved over time to even get the hosts involved pre-poll and create feedback loops in anime fandom to truly drive engagement.
I believe anime superfans aspire to eventually create their own anime, so I thought that if we could provide another tool to help creators unleash their ideas, that would be a long-term win. I partnered with Save the Cat! to create Save the Cat! Goes Anime, bringing in Anime YouTubers as hosts. In a few years, it would be amazing to see a creator cite this!
I saw Geeked Week as another opportunity to truly expand the anime pie, and wanted to make sure anime was done right for the virtual event. Across Cyberpunk Edgerunners, Junji Ito Maniac, and more, I made sure the writers’ room gave titles their full attention, and the result was a truly incredible showing for anime.
Departing Netflix, I firmly believe this foundation of innovation and thirst for excellence my team and I set up will live on. There are so many amazing people still left at Netflix, I look forward to seeing what they all do next.