Narcos S1

Online Media Campaign

DoubleClick / Google Web Designer case study

DoubleClick and Google Web Designer help Netflix launch global hit Narcos (click to view)


Netflix’s Narcos tells the gripping, true-crime saga of the infamous cocaine kingpin Pablo Escobar and the law enforcement agents sworn to take him down. To introduce domestic and international audiences to this epic drama, Netflix required a suite of high-impact ad units with the flexibility to be dynamically adaptable to any market. To meet these demands, Netflix aligned itself with the king of the HTML banner cartel... AvatarLabs.

The Campaign

Creating an online media campaign for Narcos required planning as challenging as smuggling drugs over heavily guarded borders with the DEA in close pursuit. Like the characters in the show, we needed to think many steps ahead when planning dynamic units with multiple elements that could easily be swapped out to meet the needs of individual territories for current and future run dates. For instance, if a territory wanted to run a campaign in a few months' time, or if a territory wanted to highlight a character that proved especially popular there, our ads needed to accommodate these and dozens of other potential permutations.

After extensive planning, the dynamic global campaign we created achieved all this and more. Working with the Netflix marketing team, rich media partner DoubleClick (Google), and media agency MEC, we produced a technical and creative masterpiece—one of the most complex dynamic campaigns we’d undertaken to date.

Based on motion assets, key art and unit photography, the ads opened with impactful, elegant motion posters we created from special-shoot footage of cocaine being blasted from guns like bullets and swirling around the talent. From there, a large number of ads (mostly HTML5, some Flash) were created to be controlled from the same dynamic feed. The ads included multiple elements that could be swapped out depending on each territory’s marketing needs. Key art could be exchanged with alternate art, trailers could be swapped, and date messaging and legal lines could be adjusted. Custom video edits were created to serve specific audiences. Every element of the ad was fully flexible, including the lineup of talent that changed upon rollover.

Our thinking also extended to innovative HTML5 mobile ads. One unit challenged users to choose between “silver” or “lead" (money or bullets) by tilting their phone, revealing relevant video content. Another unit featured a “blow”-activated stunt, where fans were invited to blow on the microphone which triggered a custom animation revealing video content. Run of site mobile units featured a tilt-to-activate transition, blowing cocaine across the screen to reveal one of several characters that would change on additional tilts.

In addition to the global toolkit, we created a number of custom pieces:

  • Motion posters exploded on digital out-of-home placements in Los Angeles and New York.
  • A parallax, motion takeover on an Australian publisher featured the mountainous Columbian landscape shifting behind an image of Escobar within animated side panels controlled by user scroll.
  • Short-form video content for various purposes included a ten second, micro-moment depicting arch-nemeses Escobar and DEA agent Murphy walking slowly towards each other and finally meeting on the streets of Medellin. This thoroughly symbolic moment was created by rotoscoping shots of the actors from two completely different locations and then timing it perfectly to bring them together in a third location.

In all, this turned out to be one of Netflix’s largest dynamic global toolkits ever created and was incredibly powerful in meeting their US and global marketing needs.

The Results

In a short time frame, we created over 100 rich media units with dozens of dynamic variations for each, building anticipation and buzz for Netflix’s latest prestige original programming in 147 territories. The production process we created together was incorporated into Netflix's best practices brief. An instant hit around the world, Netflix quickly renewed Narcos for a second season.


  • Webby Awards Winner: Advertising - Display & Banner Campaigns
  • thinkLA IDEA Awards Winner: Best Visual Campaign
  • IAC Award Winner: Best Entertainment Rich Media Online Campaign