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the upside down of marketing with stranger things

Written by Mackenzie
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Stranger Things has successfully merged modern-day marketing with the same simplicity that made the 80s as endearing as Eggo waffles. One thing’s for sure: the 80s were a simpler time and brands didn’t need to consider the evolving digital landscape, social influencers or the fact that almost everyone with a smartphone is now considered a creator. However, Stranger Things has proven that looking back (or even upside down) can make a huge difference to your brand’s marketing. 

Everything We Know About Stranger Things Season 4

More than 40 million Netflix accounts watched season 3 and the story is not over yet… 

The upcoming fourth season of the acclaimed Netflix series, Stranger Things, is set to be released worldwide in two volumes, with the first out on the last Friday of the month  (May 27th 2022). The events we’re about to witness in the thrilling new series will then pave the way for the final series, season five.

What will Stranger Things season 4 be about?

We are about to get even more from the Upside Down as Stranger Things returns with season 4. The official trailer gives us a closer look of what to expect, from Eleven living in California and struggling to fit in with normal teenage life and Hopper being alive, to the Russians conducting their own Upside Down-related experiments. 

With a supernatural war on the horizon and Eleven being the key to humanity’s survival (no pressure), we are certainly in for an action packed series. If previous seasons are anything to go by, season 4 will deliver all sorts of nightmares. 

Stranger Things And Its Strange Marketing 

The Netflix show has managed to engage audiences far beyond their TV screens. There are many strange ways Stranger Things has truly flipped the marketing world upside down, which is why we have put together a few ways the show has really made marketers rethink how to engage audiences. 

Brand inspiration

Stranger Things has opened the gate for brands to jump on the bandwagon. Many brands can harness the buzz during the lead up to any new series to create strange content that links back to their brand. From fast food chain Burger King offering an Upside Down Whopper Meal, a regular whopper burger simply served upside down, to Panda Express serving up a supernatural orange chicken dish – when it comes to marketing you should always be open to strange ideas. 

Customise your curation

Today data drives everything from the content we create to experiences we have, meaning simple curation is no longer enough. For example, when Stranger Things season two was released, Spotify gave customers the chance to deliver curated playlists by pairing their taste of music with their favourite Stranger Things character. This shows that marketers need to always be looking for ways to personalise content and experiences so people can relate more to their brand. 

Virtual reality is reality

Technology allows a brand to reach customers no matter where they are, whether this be through a phone, laptop, billboards or virtual reality – it’s a great way to generate customers and conversations. Launching a 360-degree virtual reality video, Stranger Things gained over 2 million views by allowing viewers to put themselves inside the show. VR experiences can be expensive for brands but you can get creative and think of ways to amplify your marketing through harnessing technology. 

It’s all about gamification 

Take Google’s hidden Easter Eggs, for example… Stranger Things has utilised these by creating one that turns a Netflix user’s page upside down. Integrating gaming tactics to amp up its cool factor and embed the unexpected into fans’ interactions with the show. Brands that look to gamify their brand narrative are bound to win, especially with millennials. 

Welcome parallel storylines

The Stranger Things team took advantage of consumers’ thirst for intel by creating a YouTube playlist called Hawkins Monitored. The playlist allowed fans to spy on Hawkins residents with the use of hidden cameras – giving a deeper insight into their favourite Stranger Things characters. Brands that look far beyond their brand storylines are able to make deeper and more long-lasting connections with their customers. 

Supernatural Ways To Turn Your Marketing Upside Down 

Apart from giving us a show to binge on, Stranger Things provides several insights on how marketers can reach consumers. Here are four marketing lessons you as a business can learn to help you draw more customers in. 

Make an emotional connection

Stranger Things uses nostalgia to its full advantage. It features plenty of relatable moments that causes fans to fall in love with the show’s characters. From first kisses to Joyce trusting her instincts when searching for Will, you can use emotional connections to encourage fans to relate to your brand just like the show does. To do so, you need to focus on inclusivity, go beyond customer expectations, give your audience a sense of belonging and be authentic. Aim to understand your customers’ key emotional motivators through social listening and messaging analysis, so you can draw on these insights to help you shape your marketing activity. 

Get the fans talking

Let your customers and social media followers be your very own spokespeople, by encouraging them to create user-generated content. This will allow them to tell your story to like-minded people, no doubt growing your business and audience reach in turn. In the lead up to the release of Stranger Things their marketing hype was small but they made up for it in high quality content created by their own fan base, which was highly effective. In effect, Stranger Things made such a good impression on its fans that they as consumers sold it to other consumers. Social buzz is a great indication of how popular a show, service or product is and people are more likely to purchase or watch something when they see others they know talking about it. 

Think about product placement

Product placements are a great way to connect with consumers and increase brand awareness. Stranger Things has some amazing examples throughout many of the seasons, including Coca Cola’s ‘New Coke’ screen time, which brought in roughly $1.5 million in product placement ad value. As audiences look for advertisement-free viewing platforms, companies like KFC are looking for ways to place their products within TV shows. Keep in mind though that placements need to be organic and naturally placed within the shows – avoiding hard selling. 

Partnerships are key

Collaborations are a great way to reach more customers and capitalise another brand’s audience. We have already mentioned Stranger Things’ partnership with Burger King, but there were many more. The H&M Poolside collection helped to boost engagement and attract more consumers. The show’s creators always ensure they collaborate with the right partnering brands, ones that will truly appeal to their target audience. This is why they chose Nike, as fans were obsessed with both the 80s pop culture and Nike’s cult shoe designs. When it comes to partnerships you need to engineer buzz around the collaboration: sharing video teasers and dropping hints on social media, but never reveal too much information at the beginning to make sure your audience stays interested. 

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