Netflix is promoting the latest season of ‘Narcos’ by plastering bars and clubs with punny one-liners about the Cali cartel

DEA agent Javier Peña in Season 3 of ‘Narcos’ Juan Pablo Gutierrez/NETFLIX

When Netflix ended the second season of its hit original series Narcos, the show seemed to have reached its logical conclusion:
Pablo Escobar was dead after two gritty seasons full of drugs and violence.
But as they say, the show, or in this case, the blow must go on.

The company just released the third season of the series this past weekend. The only hitch? Everyone in the world knows Escobar, but not so much the Cali Cartel — the massive drug organisation that ran its organisation like a stealthy corporation around which the third season centres on.

Netflix has been plastering what would have been cocaine hotspots in the ’90s, aka bars and clubs and their bathrooms, with punny one-liners and facts about the Cali Cartel to educate viewers and build anticipation for the latest season.

The streaming giant has partnered with the ad agency Doner Los Angeles to create stickers and coasters and placed them in locations across Los Angeles, Chicago, New York and Miami, were unknowing Cali Cartel customers may have used their product in the ’90s.


One coaster, for example, features a rolled up $US1 bill with a powdered white substance on the side and the lines “Need a great pickup line?” Another sticker shows a credit card next to several lines of a white powdered substance and the quote “The Cali Cartel built a $US200 billion empire one line at a time.”

The contextual ads follow the same approach that Netflix has adopted in previous seasons, using fact-based campaigns and utilising statistics to illustrate the storyline. Last year, before releasing the show’s second season, for instance, Netflix launched a Tumblr site called ‘Narcopedia’, an interactive experience that took viewers through the history of cocaine and provided in-depth information on the war on drugs.

The approach seems to be working. According to data crunched by social analytics firm Brandwatch, while there has been some mention of viewers “missing Pablo” online, the Cali Cartel is gaining prominence, with over 7,000 mentions over the past month versus “Pablo Escobar,” which has about 2,300 mentions.