Protesting against Byron Baes giving Netflix show free publicity, expert says

A woman holds a sign at Tuesday morning's protest.

A woman holds a sign at Tuesday morning's protest. Photo: ABC News/Leah White

People protesting Netflix’s new reality series Byron Baes are actually creating free publicity for the streaming giant, who will be “loving” the attention, a leading marketing expert says.

In the latest show of opposition to the series, surfers in Byron Bay – the NSW tourist hot-spot where the show is based – took part in a protest-paddle this morning.

Netflix says the show is a “docu-soap” and a “love letter to Byron Bay” which will follow the lives of “hot Instagrammers” and their “fights, flings and heartbreak” in the coastal town.

Some locals believe the show will make a mockery of the town, which has been more historically identifiable for its hippie influences, rather than hip influencers.

Their campaign has attracted significant media attention, and even made headlines internationally.

Businesses have refused to work with Netlix and Indigenous residents say they have not been consulted. Photo: ABC News/Samantha Turnbull

Associate Professor David Waller, who heads the University of Technology Sydney’s marketing faculty, said the protesters were giving the show they hate free publicity.

“They [Netflix] will be loving it. It’s getting them a lot of free publicity and coverage on television networks,” Dr Waller, who has previously worked in the film industry, said.

“It’s a clever strategy, a lot of companies will use controversy to build awareness … if you’re getting your opposition to talk about you, you must be doing something right.”

Some locals are concerned the show will be “embarrassing” and “void of authenticity” but Dr Waller said intrigue was building and audiences would now be more likely to tune in.

More than 7000 people have signed an online petition calling on authorities to block the show’s producers from accessing roads and public areas.

“The protesting builds awareness and people will want to see what it’s going to be like, how it’s going to be handled,” Mr Walker said.

“This footage of the opposition and protests may end up in the documentary even.

“Probably for not that many hours of television they are going to get a lot of publicity in Australia and across the world.”

Byron Shire Council’s Greens Deputy Mayor Sarah Ndiaye said while Netflix had produced great shows in the past, this idea was “vapid” and “tacky”.

“I think the community has come out so strongly because this is not who they are and this is not who they want to be portrayed as,” she said at this morning’s protest.

“I think it’s a really lazy choice on Netflix’s part.”

Eureka Productions is making Byron Baes for Netflix.

“With a compelling cast, spectacular settings and some truly addictive drama, Byron Baes has all the binge-worthy ingredients,” said Chris Culvenor, co-CEO of Eureka Productions.

The show comes at a time when Netflix has been criticised for not making enough Australian content and last year they hired their first Australian content boss, Que Minh Luu.

Que Minh Luu said she was looking for a show that was unquely Australian and felt Byron Baes fit the bill. Photo: ABC/Ben King

Ms Luu recently told the ABC that Byron Baes was picked up by Netflix because it explores a quintessentially Australian place by going beneath the surface of the online images.

“This is for Australia first and foremost. My entire remit is to please our Australian members,” she said.

“If we do a show and it does really well overseas but it doesn’t do well in Australia, we failed.”

Ms Luu said the show would not be a “takedown of anyone” and will explore influencers’ – some of whom have lived in Byron their entire lives – drive for love.

“I don’t think we need to do set up dinner parties or whisper into their ears to create drama, there’s already a lot of drama in these people’s lives.”


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