The Art of the Sell — Stranger Things and New Coke

These posts celebrate the movie trailers, movie posters, commercials, print ads, and other promotional material that stand as their own works of art. 

As someone who experience formative years during the nineteen-eighties, culturally guided by Steven Spielberg’s films and Stephen King’s fiction, I am fully prepared to acknowledge my enduring affection for the Netflix series Stranger Things is tightly bound to the expert evocation of a number of my experiences from the era in which it is set. I can point to a myriad of skilled storytelling tactics employed by the brothers Duffer and their collaborators, but I must concede that the well-deployed trappings of the age leave me cheerfully spellbound. And I’m especially smitten when precisely the right era signifier is front and center in promotional efforts, which leads me straight to the latest mini-campaign in the long lead-up to the third season.

Among the odd cultural touchstones set to factor into the upcoming season of Stranger Things, a misbegotten brand relaunch evidently looms large enough to inspire a tie-in effort. In the middle of the eighties, Coca-Cola responded to a marketplace so newly competitive that the term “cola wars” was coined by showily revamping the recipe of its flagship product. New Coke debuted in 1985, prompting the publisher of Beverage Digest to tell CBS News, “This has got to be the boldest  consumer products move of any kind, or any stripe since Eve started to hand out apples.”

The prominent inclusion of one of the most famous U.S. brands in a buzzy streaming series didn’t involve paid product placement, but synergy is its own enticement. Coca-Cola collaborated with the creators of Stranger Things to brew up a special teaser, combining a treacly, very-eighties jingle with relevant clips culled from the upcoming season of Stranger Things. And it is a work of multi-faceted marketing perfection.

Other entries in this series can be found by clicking on the “Art of the Sell” tag.


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