Marketing & Branding

What Season 3 of Stranger Things Can Teach You About Product Placement

This is your official warning that this blog post contains possible spoilers for Stranger Things on Netflix, particularly Season 3. You’ve been warned!

If you’ve tuned in to Season 3 of Stranger Things, there’s no doubt you’ve noticed a large number of brands have worked their way into each episode. The featured brand names induce a sense of nostalgia for those who experienced the glory of the 80’s, and for those who didn’t, it paints an accurate picture of what it was like at the time.

While we may never know which of these brand features were full-on paid product endorsements versus creative additions, one thing is for sure, the inclusion of name brands in the most recent season of Stranger Things has piqued the interest of viewers across the globe.

Without further ado, here are the most important lessons you can learn about product placement from Season 3 of Stranger Things.

#1- A Well-Placed Takeout Bag Can Induce Hunger

Image source: Netflix

Without a doubt, Burger King takes the cake for the number of times a brand was featured in the most recent season. Between background glimpses and full-on interaction with the characters, viewers of the show were left craving Whoppers and fries.

According to the Max Planck Society, a research organization based in Germany, even just seeing images of food stimulates appetite. Advertisers and media producers like Netflix have taken note of this and have used it to their advantage through creative product placements in their shows and movies. Sure, the placements aren’t the same as traditional ads like what you’d see on a billboard or in a magazine, but the subliminal impact is just as large. It’s a safe way for companies like Netflix to generate more profit without explicitly placing advertisements within their platform.

The Stranger Things and Burger King pairing also paved way for an even more interesting campaign: Burger King’s “Upside Down Whopper.” There may not be any Upside Down Whoppers in Hawkins, Indiana, but 11 locations across the US are serving up this spooky sandwich for a limited time. Don’t get too bent out of shape if you aren’t near any of these exclusive spots, though- it’s literally just a Whopper served upside down. You can also experience this at any Burger King near you by simply swapping the top and bottom buns!

Image source: Burger King

#2- Showing Classic Brands Can Revive Waning Interest

Image source: Netflix

Between Eleven’s hip makeover and the Mind Flayer’s ultimate destruction of the store, it’s safe to say Season 3 has thrust Gap back into the spotlight. If social media is any indication, viewers of the show are now starting conversations around a brand they may have previously forgotten about.

This might not seem like a big deal, but in March 2019, Gap announced its plan to close about 230 stores within two years. Social media has proven that their recent feature in this Netflix hit has sparked a new interest in the brand. This was the right move by the creators of Stranger Things, who specifically sought out The Gap when constructing the fictional mall for the show. After all, it was one of the hottest brands of the 80’s.

Fun Fact: Instead of building a set from scratch, show creators converted a struggling shopping mall in Atlanta, Georgia into Starcourt Mall for Season 3 of Stranger Things. All stores in the mall were fully-stocked and camera-ready, just in case.

#3- Nostalgia is More Powerful Than Ever

Image source: Netflix

Did you forget all about the classic 80’s store Sam Goody? Don’t worry, you’re not the only one! Audiences across the country were taken by surprise when they caught a glimpse of this vintage sign in the background of several scenes in Season 3.

This sense of nostalgia is something all consumers can relate to, regardless of the year they were born. Embracing cult-favorites and classic brands or looks can be a powerful business move if done correctly. Don’t believe me? Take a look at the search traffic for “Sam Goody” over the last 5 years. Unless there was a major Sam Goody marketing campaign that I’m unaware about, I’m pretty sure it’s safe to assume that Stranger Things is to credit for this massive increase in web searches.

Searches containing the phrase “Same Goody” over the last 5 years.

The key takeaway here is that if your brand was once a cult-classic that has since fallen off the radar, it might be worth considering a vintage, nostalgia-based marketing campaign to hit your customers right in the feels. Sure, not every company can afford to partner with a show as large as Stranger Things, but there’s always a way to appeal to a customer’s sense of nostalgia, even if it’s just by handing out fanny packs with your logo on them.

Check out some of the other brands featured in Season 3 of Stranger Things:

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*All images are sourced from Netflix

At the end of the day, with every great bingeworthy show comes even better brand collaborations. It’s no surprise that companies from Orange Julius to Burger King are making appearances in fan favorites. After all, at least 26 million people have already started streaming Season 3. Who wouldn’t want to join in on that level of excitement and dedication?

Sources

Pictures of food create feelings of hunger. (2012, January 19). Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.mpg.de/4990409/regulation_eating_behaviour

Today Show. (2019, March 01). Gap announces plan to close more than 200 stores in the next two years. Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.today.com/style/gap-announces-plan-close-more-200-stores-next-two-years-t149677

How ‘Stranger Things‘ made the Starcourt Mall. (2019, July 11). Retrieved July 17, 2019, from https://www.latimes.com/entertainment/tv/la-et-st-stranger-things-3-starcourt-mall-how-they-made-it-20190711-story.html

Valinsky, J. (2019, June 13). Burger King will sell upside-down Whoppers to celebrate ‘Stranger Things‘. Retrieved July 17, 2019, from www.cnn.com