One of Netflix’s most attractive features is its lack of ads, but this doesn’t mean they’re without strategic partnerships with other high-profile brands. Most recently, the streaming powerhouse joined forces with Coca-Cola to promote the new season of Stranger Things, a hit 80s-based sci-fi drama you likely have seen, or at least know about unless you’ve been living under a rock.
Since the show premiered in 2016 to Netflix’s 149 million global subscribers, Coke has had more than a dozen cameos in the first two seasons, including the infamous scene where Eleven crushes the Coke can with her mind. For this new season, available July 4, they’re amping the partnership up even more.
Earlier this week, Coca-Cola and Netflix released a co-branded promotional video directed by the Stranger Things showrunners featuring the Hawkins, Indiana tweens enjoying a normal summer at the movies, while, of course, sipping on Coke. But, not just any Coke, “New Coke,” a drink introduced in the summer of 1985 that became one of the companies biggest blunders to date, with a different formula than the original beverage. At the time, New Coke sent soda drinkers into a panicked frenzy, and the drink lasted a brief 79 days before it was taken off the market. In fact, the entire debacle became a teachable lesson about misreading consumer demand that is still discussed in business and PR classes today.
In an interview with The New York Times, Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of the show, said the New Coke tie-in came about naturally given that the third season takes place the summer of the same year the infamous product launch took place.
“It was one of the first ideas in our Season 3 brainstorm,” the Duffer Brothers, as they are listed in the credits, said in a joint email interview. “It was the summer of ’85, and when you talk about pop culture moments, New Coke was a really big deal. It would have been more bizarre to not include it.”
As part of its full public relations campaign, New Coke will be featured in several episodes of the third season of Stranger Things, and the company will even be bringing back the beverage for a limited time available at CokeStore.com/1985.
While it’s rather bold to revive one of the biggest “failed drinks” in Coca-Cola history, it goes to show just how valuable strategic partnerships and product placements can be for both parties. Coupled with one of the most hyped up television premieres of the year, the revamp of the ill-fated product launch may just finally find its groove and become a bestseller.