Optus launches Netflix in Australia with Ricky Gervais

How did Optus break an Australian Facebook record? By paying Ricky Gervais to NOT make an ad. Take a look below to see how Emotive and Optus made this happen.

Emotive were approached by Optus to create a content campaign to promote their launch partnership with Netflix in Australia.

 The Solution

Emotive wanted to position Optus & Netflix as the premium opportunity in market – a true entertainment provider. The idea was to launch the service aggressively using social media wrapped around a simple idea: to deliver content that was as entertaining as Netflix itself.
With the idea, platform and audience in mind, Emotive then secured Ricky Gervais as the lead talent for this campaign.

The strategy was to allow Ricky Gervais to create his own piece of content, with minimum script parameters – counter to the way most advertising is created. The shoot with Ricky resulted in three short form teaser content pieces, a scripted comic product read and a piece of pure entertainment, delivered by a world-class entertainer. An anti-advert.

On set Ricky

On set. L-R – Charlie Leahy (ECD, Emotive), Sam Washington (EP), Ricky Gervais (Talent)

 The anti-advert features Ricky in full, globally renowned ‘deadpan’ mode as he delivers brazenly lazy brand messaging, conveying no pricing or product information, in an ironic anti-advert designed to entertain and drive social actions and conversation while delivering the Optus and Netflix message.

By trusting in our digital audience’s ability to get the joke, we were able to take a bold, ironic and intelligent approach. The key here was the uniqueness of the content, letting Ricky be Ricky and having respect for the audience’s intelligence. We knew that if we could create content that took a risk and was edgy, it would be well received by social media users who would engage with and share the content.

The Results

The content launched on the 24th March 2015 and not long after the social audience were sharing the content, commenting, tagging their friends and helping to spread the virility of the videos.
The following results are taken from the first 12 days of the campaign (the results are ‘and counting’ as the content still has momentum).

  • The video broke the record for the fastest branded video to hit 4 Million (Australian) views in Australian Facebook history (from a population of 23 Million)
  • The video became the most successful piece of branded content Google have ever seen in Australia
  • Interest level in the video was 6x higher than any TV campaign Optus had previously run, it resulted in 165% lift in searches for Optus
  • Over 5.7M unique views on YouTube
  • Viewed in over 143 different countries on YouTube
  • A full playout & discussion on The Ellen Show globally
  • 52 pieces of PR were generated in Australia – reaching over 4.6M people
  • The anti-ad featuring in the top 5 global ads on Adweek and Faster CoCreate
  • WINNER – 2015 Cannes Lions – Cyber – Bronze


Executive Creative Director, Emotive – Charlie Leahy

Director – Sam Washington

Production Team – Caviar London

Associate Director, Social Media & Content Marketing, Optus – Nigel Lopez-McBean

Director, Active Consideration, Optus – Karen Phipson

Brand Advisor, M&C Saatchi – Andy Flemming

PR Advisor, Fuel Communications – Trisha Ford