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Stranger Things and Nostalgic Product Placement

Product placement is nothing new.  Advertisers have slipped their products into television shows and movies for decades.  Actors might smoke a certain brand of cigarettes or drink a specific brand of soda. Brand name packages can be strategically placed on countertops or coffee tables.  Producers accept money from advertising agencies to seamlessly incorporate products into the production. But the production of modern shows set in the past, such as Netflix’s Stranger Things, has ushered in a new era of nostalgic product placement.  Stranger Things prominently features brand name products that were popular in the early 1980s (when the show takes place). This product placement lends to the authenticity of the show but also changes the dynamic of product placement.

Stranger Things and Product Placement Examples

Because Stranger Things is set in the early 1980s, it makes sense that the show’s characters would use products from that time.  In fact, it would be strange if they didn’t! By using popular products of the time, from food to games and school supplies, the production team for Stranger Things authenticates the time frame for the show.  This approach is as important as creating period-appropriate clothing and hairstyles for the characters. Every visual element contributes to the 1980s setting of the show. So which types of products has Stranger Things utilized to evoke the ‘80s?  

    • Food products in their 1980s packaging, such as Eggo Waffles, Mrs. Butterworth’s syrup, Hunt’s Snack Pack Pudding, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Nabisco Nilla Wafers, Nutty Bars, Pringles, Ritz crackers, SunMaid Raisins
    • Drinks such as TAB (the original diet soda), New Coke, and Schlitz beer
    • Games such as Up Words, Dungeons and Dragons, Family Feud, and Score Four
    • Trapper Keepers- the mega-notebook/folder carried by all kids at the time

These are just a few of the most prominent examples of nostalgic product placement in the show.  Netflix confirms that they have more than 75 product placements agreements in place for Stranger Things, although they claim to be unpaid placements.

The Importance of Nostalgic Product Placement

In addition to giving the show authenticity, nostalgic product placement allows the viewer to create an emotional attachment to Stranger Things.  Many members of the target audience grew up in the early ‘80s. Seeing these products in use brings the viewer back to his or her youth and creates a nostalgic connection.  It even gives viewers a kind of interactive experience, allowing them to play “spot that product.” To Netflix, this nostalgic product placement is clearly an opportunity for a solid revenue stream.  To advertisers, product placement is a golden opportunity to reach a very specific audience. Netflix has reams of data on exactly who is watching which shows that it produces valuable information for marketing professionals.

How Stranger Things Brought Back New Coke

Season 3 of Stranger Things is set in 1985, the year that brought us New Coke, one of the biggest product flops of all time.  To keep with the timeline, Stranger Things features New Coke, and in a marketing twist, Coca-Cola is re-releasing a limited supply of New Coke as a tie-in with the show.  So we’ve gone from a show that showcases a nostalgic product to creating a demand for that product in the current time. It is easy to see how this nostalgic product placement could generate demand for other products, whether they are now obsolete, like the Trapper Keeper, or whether products bring back retro packagings such as the genuine tins for Ritz crackers or Sun-Maid Raisins.

For more information on how product placement can be an important part of your marketing strategy, reach out to us. At Web Content Development, we implement the best strategies to exceed your online marketing goals.


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About the Author

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva

Erica D’Arcangelo – De Silva has worked in the Internet marketing industry for the last 20-years. Erica is the top-secret SEO weapon to marketing and advertising agencies in the world. She has generated over 300+ million in revenue for high-value brands such as Walmart, Pottery Barn, iRobot, Cutting Edge Firewood, Kelley Blue Book, and many more. Erica has custom-created more than 1,000 content, SEO, and marketing strategies which held the key to doubling and tripling online traffic, and marketing ROI. She has also authored a series of online publications including The Digital Branding Survival Guide, Million Dollar Marketing, 5 Steps to Increase Web Traffic by Blogging, and Repairing Your Online Reputation.