As Stranger Things entered its record-breaking third season on July 4, the sci-fi supernatural series noticeably ramped up its ‘80s-influenced marketing, setting the stage for the summer of 1985 in Hawkins, Ind.
But tapping into ‘80s nostalgia went far beyond standard spots and promos; the series opened the gate for dozens of brand activations to take place to drive partnerships, product tie-ins, and create a real-world extension to the supernatural universe.
Here are seven ways Stranger Things 3 turned marketing “upside down:”
Coca-Cola took a risk by reviving its once-failed soft drink, New Coke, that debuted during the summer of 1985, which happens to be the same year season three takes place.
Ahead of the season’s premiere, Coca-Cola released limited amounts of the product, while Stranger Things characters such as Steve (Joe Kerry) and Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) appeared in New Coke ads—directed by the Duffer Brothers—that appeared online and in select theaters.
The beverage, which stayed on the market for only 79 days, is also featured in several episodes throughout the season.
READ MORE: Variety
Baskin Robbins x Scoops Ahoy
To help fans handle the summer heat, Stranger Things transformed the Baskin-Robbins in Burbank, Calif., into a real-life version of “Scoops Ahoy,” the Starcourt Mall’s nautical-themed ice cream parlor.
Everything from the staff’s uniforms to the interior decoration and drive-through were transformed to pay homage to the show’s throwback setting. The location even revamped its menu to include new additions, like the Demogorgon Sundae, Elevenade Freeze and the Byers’ House Lights Polar Pizza.
“Working on this campaign has been an awkward walk down memory lane,” said Matt O’Rourke, chief creative officer at 22Squared, in a statement. “Growing up in the 80’s was a strange time, and I speak for many of us at the agency when I say many of us re-lived some childhood memories through this process, which is essentially what watching Stranger Things evokes and why I think this work is so spot on.”
READ MORE: LA Times
Apparel: Levi’s, Nike and H&M
Those who missed out on the ‘80s quirky, colorful fashion can look no further than Levi’s, whose fall/winter 2019 capsule collection centers heavily on the trends featured in season three. Items include pleated jeans, Dustin’s “Camp Know Where” shirt,” and Eleven’s printed blouses.
H&M debuted a line of its own: an exclusive poolside collection starring seasons two and three break-out star, Billy (Dacre Montgomery).
Nike helped create stranger look from head to toe with its “Nike x Stranger Things Air Tailwind 79 OG” collection of sneakers. The line, which flashes back to shoes worn in the ‘80s, was inspired by references from the show, like Independence Day and Hawkins High School’s colors.
Burger King opened the gate to the Upside Down with its iconic item: the Whopper. Though the item didn’t receive any new ingredients, the food chain flipped the burger upside down and served it in exclusive, Stranger Things-branded packaging, tapping into consumers’ love for the supernatural sci-fi series to increase brand awareness.
Hawkins Fun Fair x Santa Monica, Coney Island
As summer kicked into high gear, Netflix took over the Santa Monica Pier and Coney Island, transforming them into Mayor Kline’s Hawkins Fun Fair.
The takeover merged elements from a classic ‘80s carnival with the series’ sci-fi-inspired universe, including a performance from the Hawkins High School Cheerleaders, ‘80s cover bands, food eating contests and more.
READ MORE: LA Times