How the Nostalgia of Stranger Things Season 3 Made It A Brand Darling
By Lauren Orsini · July 05, 2019
Ahead of the Stranger Things season 3 launch on July 4, 2019, the Netflix original title inked promotional agreements with 75 different brands. Fans of the wildly popular series may find this figure as surprising as the abrupt appearance of a Demogorgon.
According to the New York Times, Stranger Things has incorporated dozens of beloved ‘80s brands in order to fully immerse audiences in its old-school atmosphere. While products like Kellogg’s Eggo waffles and Kentucky Fried Chicken appeared in season one without any money exchanging hands, partnerships ahead of Season 3 are more mutually beneficial.
For food and lifestyle brands with retro roots, this sudden influx of love for all things ‘80s is a publicity win. As hype builds for the third season, the social conversation offers brands plenty of opportunities to ride this wave.
Brands Taking a Bite of Stranger Things Season 3 Publicity
We feel nostalgia through all five senses, and that includes taste, which explains why some of the most memorable Stranger Things season 3 partnerships have to do with food.
The show teamed up with Coca-Cola to promote the new Coke and with Baskin-Robbins to create flavors that might be served at the Hawkins, Indiana ice cream parlor, Scoops Ahoy. On June 13, Burger King flipped its main menu item on its head: voila, the Upside-Down Whopper was born.
In the past 90 days, the top Stranger Things-related food videos by view count are:
- “Everyone: I don’t think Stranger Things can get any more 80’s. Stranger Things: Hold my New Coke…” – Coca-Cola (9.0M)
- “Everyone: I don’t think Stranger Things can get any more 80’s. Stranger Things: Hold my New Coke…” – Coca-Cola (3.3M)
- “Stranger Things are Happening at Baskin-Robbins: Upside Down Sundae – Baskin-Robbins (1.2M)
- “Stranger Things are Happening at Baskin-Robbins: Eleven’s Heaven” – Baskin-Robbins (1.1M)
- “In a partnership with Netflix’s “Stranger Things,” Burger King announced it will soon sell an ‘Upside…” – CNN (72.2K)
These three main partnerships dominate the top food videos. What’s particularly interesting is their longevity: steadily-growing view counts over 30 days or more (known as V30).
Arguably, this is a larger benefit to Stranger Things than it is to its partner brands — since Netflix releases each season in one complete, binge-watchable package, people may watch it all at once, discuss it for maybe a week, and forget it. Brand promotions mean it instead has staying power all summer.
What Stranger Things Means For Lifestyle Brands
Stranger Things has top-notch set design, sparing no detail to fully immerse the audience in another time. From one character’s throwback Nike sneakers to another’s Trapper Keeper binder, and even the La-Z Boy sofa downstairs and the He-Man in one protagonist’s bedroom, each element of the show’s set works together to create a cohesive picture of an earlier time.
Now, brands are bringing those lifestyle elements off the set and into fans’ lives. To time with the next season, H&M has released a clothing line featuring ‘80s chic shirt, shoes, and even swimwear. Levi’s is bringing back the “mom jeans” the character Barb is so fond of in a collaboration of their own.
Nike made a mini-collection of brightly colored sneakers that wouldn’t look out of place at Hawkins High, complete with a matching a high school gym class uniform. Aside from apparel, Lego is holding its own with a new set designed to let collectors explore both Hawkins and its alternate dimension, the Upside Down.
In the past 90 days, the top Stranger Things-related lifestyle and apparel by view count are:
- “LEGO Stranger Things: the launch” – LEGO (1.2M)
- “New Collab: Stranger Things” – H&M (1.1M)
- “Take a turn for the strange. Levi’s® x Stranger Things. . Explore the entire collection 07.01.” – Levi’s (541K)
- “Nike unveils full collaborative collection with Netflix’s Stranger Things.” – Sneaker News (380K)
- “The Upside Down 75810 Collector’s Item – LEGO Stranger Things” – LEGO (340K)
While not as individually popular as the food partnerships above, lifestyle brands are actually more successful as an industry. Our breakdown shows that after media items (like commercials and interviews with the cast), followed by beverages (well, mainly just one New Coke video), retail videos make up the next largest chunk of Stranger Things season 3 video content with 6.6M views in the past 90 days on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube combined.
Stranger Things keeps viewers tuned in with its supernatural thriller aspects, but it’s the familiar atmosphere of its ‘80s nostalgia that has made it a brand collaboration magnet. And with 75 partnerships and counting, it’s clear there’s plenty of social capital to spread around.