The Cloverfield Paradox won the Super Bowl trailer war by focusing on Netflix’s biggest weakness


Well played, Netflix. Well played. It was only recently I was chiding you for failing to build hype in your movie releases, letting them just appear on the site with not much warning. 

And what do you go and do? Release one of your biggest movies of the year with very little warning and go and pull off one of the biggest marketing campaigns of the year. A campaign that lasted a mere 30 seconds but cemented Netflix as one of the most progressive services around. 

Netflix won the Super Bowl trailer war by stealth, by surprise and by giving fans what they want right away. 

That's no mean feat when Solo, the next Star Wars story, was meant to be the gleaming jewel of the halftime entertainment. 

While that trailer finally offered a glimpse of a movie that's been closely guarded, The Cloverfield Paradox also offered a trailer to a movie that's been a tightly-kept secret, but one-upped Disney by offering the movie to stream on Netflix right now, today. 

This is a huge sea change for the movie world, upturning the regular build-up of marketing, the trailer tease after trailer tease and the inevitable talk show promotional surge everyone goes on when a big movie was released. 

Netflix boiled this down to just 30 seconds. But 30 seconds is enough when it's in the middle of the Super Bowl, the most watched entertainment event on the calendar. 

It's a fantastic coup by Netflix and one which turns its biggest weakness into its biggest asset. 

Giving people what they want

The lack of marketing Netflix offers to its new properties is changing, finally, thanks to it plowing billions into its original content. But there's still at least a movie a week that goes up with not even a whisper of promotion. 

Take, for instance, Stephen King’s Gerald’s Game. While this was a critical success, its build up was minimal on Netflix. Another Stephen King property 1922 got nothing and it's actually pretty great. 

Compare this to the millions spent on the promotional big-screen campaign for IT, the most successful horror movie ever made, and the turgid Dark Tower, and it's embarrassing how little Netflix has been pushing its movies. 

But Netflix used this model to brilliant effect with The Cloverfield Paradox, except this time its hype went from 0-100 in a few seconds. 

Never underestimate giving people what they want. I will always remember seeing the trailer for Back To The Future III after watching the second movie on the big screen - knowing that movie had already been made and was months not years away was one of the greatest feelings. 

Having the movie streaming now on Netflix makes me want to watch it a whole lot more than if I had to wait a couple of months, where all that would be left of that lightning bolt of hype would be a flash of a memory. But Netflix used its service as a bottle and captured it. 

Even if The Cloverfield Paradox is not great - and initial reviews are underwhelming (though they do smack of movie writers being annoyed that they've been surprised and had to stop watching the game halfway through to do their jobs) - that's not the point, it's the surprise and the majesty of being able to pull off such a trick in a movie world that moves at a snail's pace when it comes to change.

And therein lies the Netflix paradox: it turns out no hype gives its movies the ultimate hype. 

So what should it do going forward with the movies it will be releasing this year? Simple: surprise us, Netflix. Keep on surprising us.