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11 Things to Turn Your Brand Strategy Upside Down

Stranger Things have turned the Internet upside down last week as season 3 was dropped on the 4th of July 2019. We have so much to learn from the Netflix sensation, so much so that we’ve compiled 11 things that will turn your brand strategy upside down. No Demogorgons or Mind Flayers needed. 

1. Keep It Nostalgic

Dungeons & Dragons, Wonder Woman, Back to the Future, Eggo Waffles and New Coke are the 1980’s. The hair, the clothes, the décor, and the cars are not parodies at all, Stranger Things are giving millennials those 80’s vibes that they grew up with. 

It’s simple really, want to create content or products that’ll connect with consumers? Create an emotional connection. The better that emotional connection is, the stronger the loyalty for that brand will be. 

Reminiscent of Stephen King, Twin Peaks and The X-Files, viewers also associate Stranger Things with happy childhood memories. Furthermore, a study by the Journal of Consumer Research found that consumers spend more money when they are feeling nostalgic. 

For instance, Target took advantage of those sweet 1980’s vibes by making Eleven’s short sleeve romper from season 3 available on their website. However, it’s already sold out in every size. Stranger Things fans are now able to wear their nostalgic 1980’s love on their sleeve, literally. 

Stranger Things

Stranger Things uses nostalgia as a way to connect with viewers. This pops up again and again in the television show and their creative marketing campaigns. Use emotional connections in your own content strategy to see the benefits of securing a loyal fan base.

2. Get Interactive


Netflix, in collaboration with the advertising agency Doner L.A., deployed an army of Dustins in New York to hype up the second season of Stranger Things at Comic-Con. Famous for doing audacious things for ambitious brands, Doner L.A. surprised and delighted fans with the opportunity to ride on a pedicab blasting 80’s music with a Dustin doppelgänger.

This strange but fun stunt brought the attention to both Stranger Things and Comic-Con in a memorable and newsworthy way. A study by Hubspot stated that people have the ability to recall 65% of visual content that they’ve seen almost three days after the fact.

Aside from getting people talking, spotting a Dustin look-a-like on social media or on the news could be the memorable moment that Netflix was looking for. It’s time to think about your brand. What can you do to create memorable and interactive content to captivate the attention of your viewers?

3. Get Fans Talking


Did you know that Stranger Things spread in popularity due to word of mouth? Fans were so excited by the new Netflix series that they rushed to social media to share their love for the show. According to Netflix, season three has smashed all previous records, becoming the first film or series on the streaming platform to have 40.7 million views from household accounts in the first four days. A note to all the binge watchers out there- 18.2 million of those viewers managed to watch all eight episodes of season three in four days. 


Sometimes the pen (or the computer mouse) can be more powerful that a mass of fourth of July fireworks released on a Mind Flayer. Get your fans talking and you’ll have reputable and organic reach for your brand. Don’t believe us? 54% of social browsers use social media to research products before buying them. Above all, you’ll want people to be speaking positively of your brand to reap in those benefits.

4. Get Other Brands Talking


It’s one thing to have fans talking about you. However, it’s an entire other thing to have brands talking about you. Big brands such as IKEA, Kellogg’s and Burger King have all taken advantage of the hype around Stranger Things. 

For example, IKEA recreated Joyce Byers’ living room from season one of Stranger Things using only IKEA products. With eCommerce and pop culture equally in mind, this is a fun way to give fans a shoppable way to recreate the look of their favourite television living rooms at home.

Stranger Things

From the iconic lights on the wall that Joyce uses to communicate with Will, to the simple coffee table. You’ll be able to turn your usual living space upside down. Just remember to have your baseball bat ready to fight back any unsuspecting demons that you make contact with. We’re not responsible, nor is IKEA, for whom or what you may accidentally contact with this living room set up. 

As a brand, don’t be afraid to have a bit of fun with your audience and with other competitors. You want there to be buzz around your brand. Make relationships that make sense and implement them into your brand strategy. It can even be as simple as connecting to retailers that suit your needs. If you want to learn more about how brands and retailers are a match made in brand strategy heaven with ChannelSight’s eCommerce solutions – contact us. 

5. Remember Failed Campaigns

Not all marketing campaigns are successful ones. There comes a time when we need to learn from our mistakes. Also there comes a time when we need to laugh at our mistakes. Coke has decided that this is the time for the latter.

It wouldn’t be the 1980’s without mentioning the blunder that was New Coke. In 1985 Coke wanted to boost sales and rival it’s biggest competitor, Pepsi, with a new product. New Coke was a sweetened version of the classic Coke formula. It was such a flop that customers boycotted the brand and Coca-Cola’s bottling partners refused to distribute New Coke products. To make matters worse, $4 million was wasted on research and marketing for the product and $30 million worth of New Coke inventory remained unsold.

The Duffer Brothers, who created Stranger Things, told The New York Times, “New Coke was always going to play a role this season. It was one of the first ideas in our season three brainstorm. It was the summer of ‘85, and when you talk about pop culture moments, New Coke was a really big deal.”



So what can we take away from Coca-Cola and their once failed idea? It’s obvious that it’s taken some years (and several millions in losses) to get over the bittersweet sting of New Coke. Today though, they were able to have a laugh at their mistakes and even bring back a small supply of New Coke for Stranger Things fans. If that isn’t a win-win situation we don’t know what is.

6. Create an Immersive Experience


Netflix and Lyft also partnered together for the second season of Stranger Things to give
Lyft users a scary ride for Halloween. In between October 26th and October 27th, Lyft users in the United States were able to opt into a Stranger Things mode which altered the maps in the app. Cars were soon represented by waffles, Christmas lights, trucker hats and the Stranger Things Logo. 

Then on October 27th and 28th, riders in Los Angeles and Philadelphia were taken on a surprise Stranger Things themed ride from 4pm to 9pm. This ride featured flickering lights, a malfunctioning app and a driver vomiting a slug before the car is transported into the upside down. The riders at the very end are treated to an Eggo waffle, an Eleven approved treat.

 

This immersive experience was extremely popular. Netflix benefited from the shout outs and Lyft was inundated with ride requests from fans looking to experience the upside down. This was probably the first marketing stunt that involved someone vomiting a slug, but alas it was effective.

We’re not saying you have to temporarily kidnap your consumers to immerse them, but maybe it’s time for your brand to think outside of the Eggo box.

7. Turn Stranger Things Into Sponsored Things

Stranger Things is no stranger to sponsored things. There are product placements throughout the show. Some were incidental, like Eggo waffles, that surprised Kelloggs as much as it surprised viewers. Others like the prominence of The Gap, Burger King and Kentucky Fried Chicken in the series were less incidental. The product placement in the series is now valued at $15 million, which is no small figure. Some ideas have been brilliant, others have been a little lackluster.

Most noteworthy, let’s take a look at the Upside Down Whopper for example.

It’s Burger King’s signature burger but upside down. Now, it was thankfully only served in 11 stores in the United States, but we’d have to call this featured ad a flop. 

Burger King was featured prominently in season three of Stranger Things. The new Starcourt Mall in Hawkings was the center of a lot of activity and the restaurant chain could be spotted on more than one occasion.

Product placement is projected to be valued at $11,4 billion dollars in 2019, which is a huge jump from the $4.75 billion spent in 2012. This is something that brands should consider if the option is available to them.

8. Don’t Forget Merchandise

Merchandise is the kryptonite to any fandom. Consumers have a weak spot for merchandise and they’re keen to show off their interests. It’s a lucrative form of generating revenue, as movie and television related merchandise hit $51.4 billion in 2013 and royalties from those sales reached $2.66 billion.

Netflix has tapped into the lucrative sales of Stranger Things merchandise. Big brands and retailers have all shown interest. As Eleven’s dress at Target, featured above, sold out in no time, brands like Lego are trying to get in on the action.

Featuring a video that is equal parts nostalgic and tongue in cheek, Lego manages to master the balance to attract both fans who experienced the 1980’s and those who didn’t.


A faceless woman gestures towards the different features of the Lego home of Joyce Byers. The wall of lights is highlighted and so is Detective Hopper’s care. The excited voice of the narrator makes the set sound like it’s a one in a million piece that is only available for a limited time. Is it cheesy? Absolutely. Is it effective, especially for those who grew up in the 80’s? Most definitely.

Merchandise can be an effective way to generate additional revenue. Even brands like Coca-Cola are jumping on the Stranger Things bandwagon with special edition clothing and drinks. What can your brand do to incorporate merchandise into their brand strategy?

9. Give Consumers Something Extra

Giving your fans something extra is a great way to continue to build brand loyalty. Netflix are the masters of offering their fans a little something extra, including a Stranger Things app and even an interactive 1-800 number.

Billboards popped up in Los Angeles and New York for Hawkins Power. The tagline of the boards read, “Flipping the Switch for a Brighter Tomorrow,” which is a typically bland message. The campaign featured a 1-800 number that at first seemed quite normal, complete with elevator music, a menu for direction and robotic responses. Then, after some time, there’s a cracking sound and you’re met with the panicked voice of Joyce Byers.

Netflix even went as far as to create an app for Stranger Things. This added an element of gamification to the franchise. Fans are able to use the app to explore Hawkins and try and save the small American town and ultimately the world from destruction.



In other words, go the extra mile for your consumers and you will be rewarded. It’s all about the creativity and implementation of your ideas. Go the extra mile for them and they will do the same for your brand. 

10. Turn Expectations Upside Down

Stranger Things has always played with expectations. It’s a show for adults, with children protagonists living all the themes and stories that millennials devoured as children. With strong influences of H.P. Lovecraft and The X-Files, Stranger Things has continued to delight fans with fun advertisement campaigns and secret surprises. Netflix has reaped many benefits from marketing the series. The main actors in the series have also benefited from the attention of fans and viewers.

Tide used David Harbour,  who portrays Jim Hopper, in their Superbowl ad to play with expectations and turn them upside down.

 

Throughout the video Harbour is featured in a replication of many iconic television ads and subtly making fun of the expectations of viewers. Even referencing fan favourites such as the iconic Old Spice commercials.


Consider turning expectations upside down to find new ideas for your brand. Sometimes incorporating little surprises into your campaigns can pay off big time.

11. Don’t Be Afraid to Think Big


In conclusion, the protagonists in Stranger Things are all children. They think big, they have dreams, and they stand up to the Russians and of course the monsters from beyond. Above all, they defy all expectations. What can your brand take away from that? 

Taking a page from the book of the Duffer brothers could offer your brand the edge that it needs to increase conversion, build better baskets and improve your ROI.

Finally, need some superhuman help to bring your brand to the next level? No need to practice your telekinesis. ChannelSight’s eCommerce Solution is here to help. Contact us today to learn more.

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Angela Bruni11 Things to Turn Your Brand Strategy Upside Down

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