4 Marketing Lessons from Stranger Things

If you’re familiar with demogorgons, the Upside Down and Eleven, chances are you’ve seen (or have at least heard of) Netflix’s original show, Stranger Things. Season three of the hit show debuted on July 4 and almost immediately broke Netflix records. Just four days later, Netflix announced on Twitter that 40.7 million households had started watching the show since its July 4 global launch – more than any other film or series in its first four days – and a total of 18.2 million had already finished the entire season.

Looking at the overwhelming popularity of the show, there’s likely quite a few takeaways directors, producers and writers could garner. But you don’t have to be in the film industry to capitalize on the Stranger Things playbook.

Here are four marketing lessons Stranger Things taught us:


1. Nostalgia marketing is thriving.

Nostalgia marketing has been extremely popular over the last few years and is still going strong, especially as millennials have been turning into key target audiences. Tapping into a consumer’s emotions organically can be a difficult feat. But if you can figure out how to tap into that same consumer’s memories, it might be easier than you think.

Part of the appeal of Stranger Things is its 80s vibe, which makes it both charming and relatable, despite the overarching scary/thriller tone of the series. From “The NeverEnding Story” theme song that Dustin and Suzie sing, to the new clothes Eleven wears, Stranger Things is chockfull of nostalgic moments. And who doesn’t love being reminded of the “good ole days?”

2. Make sure your brand is unique and memorable.

The red, glowing, 80s-style logo of Stranger Things has become iconic. It’s become so popular that it inspired a design firm in Portland to create a logo generator called “Make It Stranger,” where you can put in any two words to “strangify” it and create your own logo. Now, anytime anyone sees a glowing red logo with a font that slightly resembles what you would see on a Stephen King novel, you know it has something to do with Stranger Things. From the theme song to the way they call each episode a “chapter,” Stranger Things has excelled at creating unique and recognizable collateral.

3. Leverage co-branding from pop culture.

Not all of us are the Duffer brothers who can create something as genius as Stranger Things, but that’s okay. Stranger Things is one of many shows, movies, people, events, and so on that is trending, and while there is success in being the one to trend, there’s also success in leveraging those brands and aligning your own product or brand with them. Target has a full line that includes clothes, toys, accessories and other merchandise. Coke brought back the “New Coke” thanks to the mention of it this season – they have a whole webpage for it. Baskin Robbins created ice cream flavors inspired by “Scoops Ahoy” and even designed pop-up “Scoops Ahoy” shops on the West Coast. And let’s not forget how Eggo waffles skyrocketed both on social media and in their sales thanks to Eleven’s obsession with them.

You can maximize your brand’s marketing by creating co-branding opportunities that are relevant, trending and buzzworthy. Stay ahead of the curve and your competition by watching out for what’s going to be trending in the next 6 months, year or even further ahead. (It’s probably not too early to start getting ready for season 4 of Stranger Things.)

4. Teamwork is key to success.

If you haven’t finished watching Season 3 of Stranger Things, spoiler alert! Perhaps one of the most important lessons we can take from Stranger Things isn’t in the way they’ve done their own marketing, promotions and execution of the show, but in the actual storyline itself. At the end of Season 3, Eleven’s powers fail her. Unlike previous seasons where she saves her friends (and ultimately Hawkins and the world), it’s actually her friends and their inspirational teamwork that defeat the Mind Flayer. Between the Scoop Troop’s Russian translations, Lucas’ fireworks, Nancy and Jonathan’s journalism skills, Will’s sixth sense of anything Upside Down related, and of course Parents-of-the-Year Joyce and Hopper, everyone played a vital role in stopping the Mind Flayer.

Just like how everyone from Stranger Things was needed to defeat the evils of the Upside Down, you have to include all aspects from digital and social media, to creative and public relations to successfully market a brand.

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