Under the Microscope: Stranger Things

30 Jun 2022

Under the Microscope

Megan Boyle

Megan Boyle

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Possibly one of the most popular Netflix series ever released, Stranger Things is the perfect blend of teen drama and supernatural horror. Its clever mix of characters, both young and old, complex emotions, and nightmare-inducing villains swerves it away from being a cliché teen series. Over the seasons we’ve seen the characters progress and grow up – which is not something seen often on a Netflix series – and lets just say that we’ve grown somewhat attached to them all.  The show is immensely diverse – you can watch it with your parents, your friends or your siblings; it’s a fun filled horror for all the family. Bridging this generational gap with heavy 80s nostalgia appeals to Gen X, Millennials and Gen Zs alike – which is exactly what the Duffer brothers hoped for. 

Stranger Things has wowed us not only with its on-screen action, but off-screen too. Showing its extensive influence over modern pop culture, we saw Kate Bush’s song ‘Running Up That hill (A Deal With God)’ sprint to the top of the charts after its feature in season four volume one. This 37-year-old song has had a new lease of life after its special use by character Max (Sadie Sink) – no spoilers here! Is there anything that Stranger Things can’t influence?! The much awaited second volume of season four is gracing our screens on the 1st of July- but with three years passing since season three aired, how did the Stranger Things marketing team maintain such an immense level of anticipation? Strap yourselves in, put ‘Hounds Of Love’ on repeat – because we’re here to tell you how they’ve done it.


Teasers and trailers

stranger things group

Every series on earth seems to have hype-building trailers – but no one does it quite like Stranger Things. On the run up to season four volume one, we had trailers and teasers galore, and nothing makes fans more excited than a teasing snippet of what the season entails. A pre-released video showing the first eight minutes of episode one graced our YouTube feeds a couple of days before volume one came out – leaving fans wanting more. Now, on the run up to volume two’s release, a second trailer is maintaining enthusiasm for the climactic end to the latest season.  So, why are these three minute clips so vital? Cleverly, trailers and teasers not only give fans a little taste of what’s to come, but they also give them something to work with. If you’ve been on TikTok lately, it’s likely that you’ve been scrolling through hundreds of Stranger Things edits, or you might’ve seen them on other social channels, like Instagram’s Reels. Either way, most of these have accumulated due to the vast amount of trailers released on both Netflix and YouTube; meaning you really can’t get away from the Stranger Things promo, and that’s exactly how they like it. 

Brand collaborations

We could list every brand that Stranger Things has ever partnered with – but we might be here for a while. What we will do instead is mention a few of our favourite collabs; the ones that have stood out among the rest.


lyft x stranger things

Partnering with transport service Lyft, the Stranger Things marketing team really thought outside the box on this one. Offering customers the chance to enter the Upside Down in their ‘Strange Mode’, Lyft gives American travellers a paranormal journey; props to this brand partnership, it looks terrifying. If you want to see it for yourself, check it out here – we just wish it was available in the UK. Sending Lyft customers deep into the Upside Down was not only entertaining, but it’s great for drawing attention to the Stranger Things series.


MAC x stranger things

A makeup collab is always a hit – especially when the products are brought to you from the Upside Down. We don’t think the demogorgon will be using the M.A.C x Stranger Things collection – but we might be. These 80s-themed makeup looks are definitely something you would find at the Starcourt Mall – and we love it. A classic cosmetics partnership is not unusual in the world of brand crossovers, but this one has been themed especially well. Each item is available in Hawkins or Upside Down-related packaging – so every time you do your makeup you’ll be thinking about Steve Harrington… Or is that just us?  

Oreo India 

oreo x stranger things

Oreo India saw red for this Stranger Things-themed snack. Moving away from the classic black biscuit and white cream combination,  a red velvet oreo appeared on supermarket shelves. The colour theme throughout the series – apart from the electric 80s colours – is largely black and red. The logo, the title sequence, and the Upside Down all use this colour combo – so it’s pretty iconic. The only thing that would’ve made this delicious biscuit better would be to change the cream’s colour to black – Oreo India missed a trick there.  Only fans over in India can get their hands on these limited edition Oreos. It’s not quite an Eggo, but who can say no to a Stranger Things snack. Engaging with the Indian market once more, the marketing team created a video with bollywood actor Varun Dhawan in an eerie Upside Down-themed house tour. The Stranger Things team is definitely testing out their international reach and keeping fans all over the world entertained. 


dominos x stranger things

For their Stranger Things crossover, Dominos created a brand new app – with the sole purpose of offering customers the chance to order pizza with their minds. ‘Mind ordering’ is the phrase used by Dominos, and although the app won’t actually give you telepathic powers, it’s still pretty cool. Gaining inspiration from The Mind Flayer, the app uses facial recognition to track users’ eye movements in order to choose products on the app, but from what we can gather, this app is only available to US residents. Throwing it back to the 80s, Dominos has gone retro, bringing back their ‘86 packaging for a limited time – a homage to season four which is also set in 1986. They have also added Stranger Things-themed content to their Instagram – including a video starring Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) and Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin). Not only is this great promotion for the show, it’s also very entertaining. 


doritos x stranger things

Newly announced, Doritos is holding a concert in the Upside Down. The unlucky guests include: Soft Cell, Charli XCX, Corey Hart, and the Go-Go’s. These artists have been taken unwillingly to the Upside Down – but the show must go on. Nothing screams good promotion like having a few popular artists performing a concert especially for your campaign. Doritos has also released a Stranger Things-themed packet – so now you can enjoy both together on the 1st of July.

Immersive events

If there’s anything that the Stranger Things marketing gang has taught us, it’s that immersive events are the way forward. There’s nothing quite like having an-in person event to get a buzz around a series, especially when the events are as well-thought out as these.  

Scoops Ahoy 

scoops ahoy

Customers were advised to grab some ice cream… at their own risk. Back in 2019, a 1980s ‘Scoops Ahoy’ themed ice cream van made its way across the UK – visiting anywhere with a Hawkins-related name. The likes of Leeds, Manchester, Liverpool and London saw the appearance of the ice cream van. Just in case you thought this van would escape the show’s monsters – in true Stranger Things style – a demogorgon was placed on the side. Sadly, customers weren’t greeted by Steve Harrington (Joe Keery) or Robin (Maya Hawke), but the appearance of this van kept Stranger Things at the forefront of fan’s minds. 


coca cola x stranger things

Coca-Cola has a rich history with the 80s, and took it upon themselves to partner with Stranger Things for a one-off event in East London back in 2019. In 1985, Coca-Cola changed its formula – gaining the title ‘New Coke’ – which received massive backlash from loyal customers. In this collab, the people of Shoreditch were treated to a pop up arcade, as well as receiving a cool can of the brand crossover. The can features the Coca-Cola logo upside down – you can probably guess why. Arcades were a major part of season two – when we first meet Max – so it’s fitting that this immersive event included them. 

Twitter coordinates 

vecna on empire state building

Ominous coordinates were posted to the Stranger Things Twitter page not so long ago, and these cryptic clues lead fans to find real life rifts leading to the Upside Down. These coordinates marked areas in countries across the globe – again, the Stranger Things team are not limiting themselves solely to the US. Most of these portals showed up as projections on buildings, and the Empire State Building even presented season four villain, Vecna, himself. Some coordinates, however, brought fans to 3D portals – such as the rift that opened up in Shoreditch, London and one on Bondi Beach in Sydney. This is an amazing idea and a great form of immersive marketing; get people involved, make it Instagrammable, and they’ll remember it forever.

80s adverts 

stranger things rift

Shoreditch seems like the place to be when it comes to Stranger Things events – the ‘Scoops Ahoy’ ice cream van also visited here in 2019. As explained above, coordinates led fans to a rift in the heart of London – and we think this was amazingly presented. A series of 80s posters appeared, shortly followed by people in hazmat suits, and a tent covering an unknown object on the middle poster. The posters were not just any old 80s posters, they were actually specific to the series itself. Surfer Boy Pizza – which we are introduced to in season four – and two demogorgon-themed posters were accompanied by a slowly opening rift. There was also a phone number on the posters that could be called, and when dialled, fans were met with a strange answering message.  As this portal became wider with each day, some lucky onlookers were treated to a Stranger Things-themed world – if they dared to go through the rift, that is. Inside was an immersive event that led to the Upside Down, and at the end, free demogorgon pizza was handed out at Surfer Boy Pizza. We’re not sure what a demogorgon pizza would be like,  but this definitely created hype for the show.

Social media content

stranger things instagram

Whoever runs the Stranger Things Instagram page certainly knows what they’re doing. A steady supply of behind-the-scenes clips, posters and teasers are keeping fans entertained and ready for volume two. Not to mention, the humorous captions add to that chatty tone of voice; our favourite has to be “can’t talk rn, I’m becoming Vecna” – and oh boy does he become Vecna. When looking at marketing from a social media perspective, it has to be on-brand; that means presenting your business, company or in this case – series – in a personable and relatable way. The Stranger Things social media does exactly that. The show’s clever mix between promo and memes has disguised the fact that the Stranger Things team are actually selling you something. Everyone loves the characters within the series, and they feature heavily on both the Instagram and Twitter page. So, for die hard fans, this is the best way to repeatedly see the actors they’re enamoured with. All in all, it’s on the other end of the spectrum to a boring ad – this type of marketing is wholly enjoyable. 

We understand that not everyone has a massive amount of money to spend on such an extensive and extravagant campaign. Although, you can’t fault the Stranger Things team; they’ve covered all bases and have made a global impact with their clever strategies. If you’re wanting to up the ante on your own marketing, why not get in touch? Let us boost your brand. 

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