Pudu Extraction

Extraction 2: Why Does Netflix’s #PuduExtraction Feel So Half-Baked?

Dept. of Epic Fails


We’ve come to expect a certain slickness when it comes to Netflix’s marketing and promotions. Over the years, the streamer has become renowned for their irresistible experiential campaigns. Think about their street furniture advertising for Altered Carbon, or the “Strange Mode” they offered Lyft riders in the United States, or that time they had a disembodied hand from Wednesday crawling by itself through the streets of New York. They were unique. They were clever. They often hit that holy trifecta of capturing audience attention, getting plenty of media coverage, and becoming viral sensations. So what happened with their Extraction 2 effort?

Netflix are usually very good at this sort of thing. Which is why we were utterly baffled by their slipshod effort at promoting one of their biggest releases here in Malaysia. Everything about their #PuduExtraction campaign just screams “third world,” from a tone deaf social media prank, to a poorly conceived and badly written video, to a release schedule that seems completely unconcerned with riding on any pre-release hype that Extraction 2 might have had.

So What Exactly Is #PuduExtraction?

Pudu Extraction

The campaign is pretty much centered around a video that stars Aaron Aziz, Fify Azmi, and Iedil Dzuhrie. The concept of which is almost painfully unclever. Iedil has apparently been kidnapped by some nameless bad guys and it’s up to Aaron and Fify to “extract” him from his predicament. It’s simplistic to the point of being insulting. It is the kind of thing that is steeped in disdain for its audience and contrived to cater to the lowest common denominator.

What’s worse, they decided to launch the video with a social media campaign which implied that Iedil had gone missing.

Iedil Is Missing!

Pudu Extraction

So on Sunday, June 18, Iedil’s followers on Instagram were presented with a post (which has since been taken down) that read:

“URGENT! HAVE YOU SEEN IEDIL? We haven’t heard from him since the Netflix event dekat Manila haritu. We’re wondering what happened to him sebab dah try to reach out to him personally but no answer. If you guys know or tahu Iedil ada dekat mana, please let us know via dm 🙏🙏🙏”

Needless to say, the Internet didn’t react well. A few of his followers found it funny, some were confused, others were angry, the media thought it was real, and Netflix scrambled to release a poorly worded statement (as reported here by Astro Awani) clarifying that it was all just part of a harmless marketing stunt. Killing the hype before it had even begun.

Now there are plenty of reasons why this was a stupid idea. There is the implication that Manila is somehow so unsafe that celebrities who were there to attend an international movie premiere are at risk of being kidnapped. There is the terrible timing of running this just days after a man was shot and killed by unknown assailants in Bandar Sunway. But mostly, it just felt half baked. It’s as if no one spent any time at all thinking about the implications of such a prank and how best to manage it.

If you’re going to pull something like this off, then the execution has to be a lot smarter and a lot subtler. God knows the best place to start would be to ask Iedil and his wife to not post Instagram stories where the both of them are enjoying a delicious steak dinner together and clearly having a good time. If you’re going to pull something like this off, then you need to be brave enough to commit.

But Wait, Where’s the Damn Video?

Now after such a colossal cock-up, you would think that Netflix would want to release said video as soon as humanly possible. You’ve already been forced to undermine your own campaign with an apology, surely the easiest way to distract people would be to show them the “cool thing” that you’ve made? But nope. There’s nothing for days. Not until 9PM on a Wednesday. Now there may be a strategy there, but it isn’t one that makes a lot of sense to us.

Why bother releasing a promotional video almost a week after the actual movie has dropped on Netflix? The best time to do this would be in the lead up to the actual release of Extraction 2. Before the middling reviews. Before everyone moves on to Secret Invasion. And before Netflix themselves have to start promoting their next big thing that’s likely dropping the following Friday.

But hey, better late than never, right? Wrong.

The #PuduExtraction Video

In an ideal situation, the best counter to bad publicity would be if the aforementioned video turned out to be fucking fantastic. It is not. See for yourself.

Here are just some of the problems we had with it:

1. It’s just too damn long. The video, which runs for 3 minutes and 35 seconds, is interminably dull. There is no tension. It is devoid of charm or creativity. Absolutely no effort has been made to homage or emulate the thing they are supposed to be promoting. Where’s the ambition? Why didn’t they try to shoot a 90 second oner in honour of what Extraction is?

2. Surely they could have done better than use disjointed phone video footage that Chris Hemsworth and Sam Hargrave clearly shot from their hotel rooms while on tour in Manila. This just looks and feels cheap.

3. Why are they asking “Chris Hemsworth” for tips on how to do an extraction and not “Tyler Rake?”

4. It’s bad enough that the dialogue was hastily cobbled together, but why is Aaron Aziz delivering all his lines like he just learned how to speak? (“This is KL!” What is? Why is every line so disconnected from the last? Was this written by a nine-year-old?)

5. While we’re here, whose bright idea was it to have Aaron Aziz do his best Hishamuddin Hussein impression?

Pudu Extraction

6. Why is the YouTube video called “Misi Penyelamat #PuduExtraction Bersejarah?” Why shoehorn lines about the history of Pudu Jail and then do absolutely nothing with it? Who cares if no one has escaped from Pudu Jail in the past? It doesn’t exist any more. There is no jail. It’s just a farce of a facade. It demonstrates such a lack of social awareness that it’s a textbook example of a harebrained concept.

Pudu Extraction

7. Why are these guys just hanging around on the sidelines and waiting to attack? Did they think they were off camera?

8. Hold up. Why is Chris Hemsworth still wearing the same clothes from three days earlier? He’s a bona fide movie star. He must own at least one other shirt.

So What the Hell Happened?

We don’t believe that we’re the only ones who have come to expect more from Netflix. Their own success at these things means they get held to a higher standard. These are, after all, the same people who projected the Upside Down on Menara Kuala Lumpur and did a Stranger Things takeover of Chinatown. They are the ones who held a Money Heist: Korea activation at the abandoned North Korean embassy in Damansara Heights. It was smart. It had its finger on the pulse. It might even have gone some way to make an otherwise mediocre TV show cool.

So what the hell happened here? We get that Malaysia is just a tiny, secondary market. But surely we deserve better than whatever this is.

Extraction 2 is now streaming on Netflix. You can listen to our full review of the movie here. #PuduExtraction is unfortunately all over social media like a bad rash.

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