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Netflix Hired Actors to Show up to Canadian Launch Event, Promptly Apologizes

netflix casting sheet
Netflix's high-profile Canadian launch attracted a sizable crowd of enthusiastic consumers yesterday. As it turns out, however, many of the "consumers" who showed up for the Toronto event were actually paid actors.

As the Globe and Mail reports, the online video rental and streaming company has now admitted to having paid extras to show up and "play types, for example, mothers, film buffs, tech geeks, couch potatoes, etc." An explanatory handout that Netflix distributed to extras asked them to "behave as members of the public, out and about enjoying their day-to-day life, who happen upon a street event for Netflix and stop by to check it out."

Shortly after news of the hoax broke, Netflix responded with an apology to all of its real customers. "I was unaware that script was handed out to extras and that was not supposed to happen," says Steve Swasey, VP of corporate communications for Netflix. "Some people got carried away and it's embarrassing to Netflix."

Embarrassing as it is, the ruse may say much more about the company's insecurities about venturing into the Canadian market, where it will face competition from pre-existing online rental and streaming companies like Zip.ca, as well as various TV networks. Even after having enjoyed widespread commercial success in the U.S., then, Netflix clearly thought that its north-of-the-border reputation needed some artificial inflation.

Tags: business, canada, dvd, launch, marketing, Netflix, netflixwatchinstantly, PressConference, StreamingVideo, toronto

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