It's no secret that Netflix's (NSDQ:NFLX) stock price has fallen off a cliff. Long a Wall Street darling, the company has shed half it's market capitalization in the past 60 days. On July 14, the stock was $300 a share; yesterday it closed at $143. Naturally there has been some scrambling on the part of management, and even a little contrition on the part of CEO Reed Hastings.
Yesterday the company announced what may be its biggest blunder to date. And somebody really needs to get fired behind this one. Of course I'm talking about Netflix splitting off its DVD rental operation and calling the new entity Qwikster. Aside from all the fundamental reasons why this was a bad move (still the company's bread and butter, just went through a pricing debacle, etc...) this is an absolute marketing disaster.
Didn't anyone at Netflix do any market research before they came up with this name? If they had, they would have found that another company tried (and failed) to re-brand themselves by changing their name to something far too similar.
Hoping to cash in on the Internet craze in 1999, Amway changed their name to Quixtar. I don't need to tell you that Amway isn't exactly held in the highest esteem among American consumers. Evidently they tried to move their multi-level marketing scheme online under the auspices of the new Quixtar name (and in turn shed the negative connotations associated with the Amway name). It was more or less a disaster, and a few years ago they abandoned the Quixtar name and went back to plain old Amway.
But that's not all. In today's world where social media can make or break a company, you'd think that someone over at Netflix would have checked to make sure the Qwikster Twitter handle was available.
It is not.
In fact, it's held by a half-smart stoner named Jason Castillo whose Twitter avatar is Tickle Me Elmo smoking a joint, and who is responsible for such Twitter poetry as:
Bored as shyt wanna blaze but at the same time I don't ugh fuck it where's the bowl at spark me up lls
Don't bother telling me who my ex is now dating ! Cuzz now I feel bad for the bitch that has my sloppy seconds :)
Seriously Netflix? That is some Amateur Hour shit over at corporate strategy.
If I were a Netflix shareholder (disclosure: I am not), I would be furious right now. Not only is splitting the company a questionable strategy to begin with, but to do so in such a half-assed manner is inexcusable.
I'm thinking they should replace Reed Hastings with Jason Castillo. The decision making couldn't get much worse, and at least they'd own the Twitter handle.