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Brief Published: 5 Jul 2019

Stranger Things Bandwagon Overflows

With some 75 brands reportedly signed on for integrations with Netflix's Stranger Things this summer, brand burnout is an issue.

Coca-Cola earned its tie-in by virtue of a notorious brand fiasco: Stranger Things Season 3 takes place during the summer of 1985, when New Coke hit US shelves only to be recalled after just 79 days due to consumer backlash. The drink will feature in the show, and Coca-Cola pulled the much-reviled recipe from its archives to produce 500,000 cans to sell via 80 themed vending machines and websites.

Online gaming is also an organic opportunity for cross-promotion. The show's Scoops Ahoy ice-cream parlour and portals into its Upside Down mirror world setting are showing up in blockbuster game Fortnite. In this online hangout space, portals into new locations (as well as product integrations – see Pop Culture Round-Up: Spring 2018) are already part of players' experience.

Levi's, Nike and H&M are releasing Stranger Things-themed capsule collections to feed a devoted fan base hungry for merch. US baseball team the Chicago Cubs put an augmented reality lens on its stadium. And Burger King's Upside Down Whopper is literally just a burger served upside down. These licenses are Stranger Things-flavoured at best, and ultimately come across as merely a quick punt for attention.

Brand tie-ins straight out of the 80s that don't give fans a relevant experience only add to mental clutter. To read about stepping back from surface-level quick engagement hits, check out The Market for Mindful Design. Hugely more inspiring work from Burger King can be found in our reporting from Cannes Lions 2019.