5 Lessons From Netflix’s Stranger Things Marketing

It is truly an exciting time to be working in marketing. Every day we see new experiments come to light with fascinating results. On that note, the most popular kid on the block is definitely experiential marketing. Just seeing or hearing campaigns is so old school as many brands are showing us.

Brands today want customers to feel an immersive experience that makes them feel like a part of an exclusive world, even if for a few minutes.

Do you want to deliver something similar to your customers? Wondering if experiential marketing is for your business? And how do you make it happen?

Netflix’s Stranger Things promos have been a masterclass in experiential marketing. So in this blog we’re breaking down everything you can take away from Stranger Things marketing to inspire your own campaigns. 

Let’s start with the basics. 

Experiential Marketing: What is it?

Before we go any further, we must clearly define what experiential marketing is. Although it sounds fancy, it boils down to any marketing campaign that allows the audience to interact with your brand, product, and business in a real-world situation. Most marketing campaigns, digital and offline, show what the product is. Or they show other people such as influencers or celebrities interacting with the product. 

But what if you could make the audience do that too? What if there was a scalable way to achieve this? 

There are and we will be exploring those in this blog. It can be as simple as setting up a VR studio for a real estate project so that customers can be “in the space” and interact with it. This definitely beats seeing 3D videos or models, right? 

If the customer could experience how the kitchen looked and how it felt walking around the cozy living area, you have a higher chance of closing the deal.

Why is Experiential Marketing the next big thing? 

When you think of marketing, what comes to your mind first? What is your ultimate goal with every campaign that you plan? 

If you are like us, it would honestly be to make our products and brands unforgettable to our customers. By some grace, if we can live rent-free in their minds, then it is definitely a huge accomplishment. So, let’s agree that this is the intent behind most, if not all, marketing campaigns. 

But making this happen is easier said than done. And that is where experiential marketing steps in. 

Your best bet at staying on top of your customers’ minds is by engaging them completely and forming a memory that connects with them on some level. You can appeal to nostalgic memories, Pop Culture, true-to-life experiences, and so on to do this. According to LinkedIn’s research, customers are more likely to spend money on products that help them bring back their childhood memories. So building an experiential campaign around this would be equal to hitting the jackpot. 

Specifically, on the impact of experiential marketing, Forbes tells us that it is an effective technique to build a long-lasting bond between the customer and the brand. This also helps circumvent the ad-avoiding generations that Gen Z and Millenials are. 

We live in an age where people are seeking out unique and exciting activities. There is a lot of mental fatigue owing to harsh working conditions, the competitive world, and the pandemic in the customer base today. So, when you create something that allows customers to be present in the moment 100% without any distractions, it will have a higher recall than any other campaign. 

It is better than any commercial you can shoot. Just a little creativity and you are good to go. 

5 lessons from Netflix’s Stranger Things marketing

Experiential marketing is nothing new in the world of Pop Culture. From Harry Potter Wizarding World parks to Central Perk Cafe from Friends, to Star Wars parks, the world has seen it all. So why are we focusing on Stranger Things marketing for this blog? 

Good question. Well, while the others were built to capitalize on the fame of a sitcom or film series, Netflix did this to generate awareness and popularize an ongoing show. 

And it worked like gangbusters, as they would say. The 80’s themed sci-fi show that everyone thought was a cute little story about some kids is now a worldwide phenomenon. The series currently has Season 4 up on Netflix and the platform tells us that the released episodes have broken all records. It is now the most viewed show on Netflix within a week of its release beating out millions of titles and hundreds of blockbuster shows. 

The results sound amazing, right? It is a culmination of all the creative efforts of the Netflix team.  

There have been many high-impact experiential marketing campaigns over the past few years for Netflix’s Stranger Things. We have hand-picked a few that we feel any brand can replicate to reap the benefits of experiential marketing. 

Let’s dive right in. 

1. Partner for powerful promos

What is your most favorite aspect of Stranger Things? Yes, we love seeing the gang play D&D, hang around the mall, play games, and just chill. But we love seeing the upside down and screaming in horror on cue more. Netflix knows this and Lyft knows this too. And that is what they have leveraged in this stint of experiential marketing. 

Lyft in partnership with Netflix launched a limited edition spooky car ride. Think haunted house from Stranger Things on wheels. They arranged for a few select customers to experience the car ride with flickering lights, wonky seats, and an acting driver for the ride of their lifetime. The cherry on top? The Stranger Things themed ride ended with an eggo reward.

This is a great example of bringing experiential marketing to your branded partnerships as well. You do not have to shy away from going all-in for collaborations. Customers will acknowledge your product even if it is a co-branded campaign as this clearly proves. 

Kimp Tip: Like all experiential marketing campaigns, every element played a vital role here. Especially the flickering lights. If you have to create an experience with limited means then focus on one design element or visual element for the highest recall value. Here, the lights and the trademark red color really make the experience memorable. 

It’s been five years since this campaign but we doubt anyone forgot this experience. That is how you attain legend status in Pop Culture. 

2. Experiment with virtual reality 

For a long time, people considered physical events to be the epitome of experiential marketing. But times have changed, especially with the pandemic. So it is time to think beyond conventional instances of experiential marketing just like Netflix did for Stranger Things. 

Netflix enlisted the partnership of a few Twitch streams and invited them to play games in the famous Stranger Things basement. While this was immersive in itself, they went a step ahead and allowed the viewers to decide the spooky conditions in which the gamers got to play. You can sit at home and decide if the light flickers or the chair falls over while also seeing it happen in real-time. 

Looking for a digital idea that is a little more low-key? Well, how about you bring out the old AR game and launch a filter on social media. If your product or brand has a strong visual identity, then this is definitely the way to go. Netflix launched AR filters that allowed customers to get a nose bleed just like Eleven does or experience the Upside Down

Above are some of the filters on Instagram and Snapchat that made Stranger Things a household name in no time. 

Kimp Tip: There are a million filters on these platforms and people love using them as well. So for yours to stand out, make the effort to create a unique, visually enticing, and impactful filter for your brand. Customers should be able to recognize your brand from the AR effect, so ensure your branding shines through. 

Looking for a design that can make your AR experiential campaign shine? Try a Kimp Graphics design subscription

3. Think outside the box

From digital experiences, we now enter the physical realm and explore a campaign with a heavy shock value. Yes, we are speaking about the installation at Australia’s Bondi Beach that Netflix managed to erect overnight. 

This upside down rift appeared just within a night in the form of a 20-meter installation on a world-famous surf beach. Which means that the volume of people who saw this and went home with one of the most striking images from the series is definitely one for the books.  

Stranger Things is a show with unexpected twists, turns, and a lot of shock value. This installation was bang on the branding and ensured that the vibe of the show transmitted to the onlookers. Anyone who had previously not seen the show would also be looking forward to catching up and binge-watching season 4 as it comes out. 

Kimp Tip: Aside from the fact that this was almost a 60 ft installation, what else do you think is the reason this campaign made such a big splash (pun intended)? Well, like we said these campaigns are meant to leave a long-lasting memory on the audience and that memory has to be accurate branding-wise too. This installation did that, it was true to form and Netflix picked a symbol that anyone can recognize immediately without explicit branding. 

Work with the Kimp team to develop branding so good that an experiential campaign becomes a piece of cake. 

4. Use outdoor ads creatively

We have always said that the billboards are here to stay. No matter how strong social media becomes, billboards will continue to drive brand awareness and open up avenues that other channels may not be able to. 

Netflix understood this and has extensively leveraged billboards for their Stranger Things marketing, but always with the added twist of experiential marketing. The billboards for Stranger Things promotions featured the Hawkins Power & Light company, and the number connected the audience to talk to the new chief to come. Exciting, right? 

The latest campaigns have been a little more true to the experiential marketing world with the Stranger Things’ key character Demogorgon taking over buildings and 80’s themed posters popping up all over London. These posters then had the Upside Down doorway appear on them followed by the secret team’s cover-up process. 

In the image below it appears as though there’s a crack appearing in the Empire State Building’s southern facade. Similar sights were seen in Malaysia on the Menara Kuala Lumpur tower and on Krakow, Poland’s Wawel Castle.

Netflix’s press release declared that “The world is about to turn upside down. Ever since 1983, when a test subject in a Hawkins, Indiana lab named Eleven ripped open a portal between Hawkins and the Upside Down (a terrifying alternate dimension beneath the surface of this small town), similar rifts have been opening up in the most unexpected places. Now, they’re officially in our world too.” 

All these events truly make the customers feel like they are a part of the world they have been seeing on their screens for a while now. And that is how experiential marketing wins. 

Kimp Tip: One of the biggest impacts of this show has been that even without the show’s name or the Netflix logo, people can recognize it anywhere. And that comes from having a unique design style (like the 80’s theme in Stranger Things) and unique characters (Demogorgon) that people love. 

This is why most brands have mascots too! Check out our blog on mascots here and connect with the Kimp Graphics team to create one for your brand.  

5. Create experiences on a budget 

We know people love the Wizarding world theme park and Disneyland but not every brand can afford to erect something so huge for their marketing. So what do you do? You start small and you build something for a short period of time for your customers to experience. 

That is what Netflix did for its Stranger Things marketing in two instances and it worked out pretty great for them. 

In the first instance, they worked with Coca-Cola to create an arcade space for customers to come enjoy life as it is in Stranger Things. And true to style, the place is covered with Upside-down elements while fans get to experience some key moments from the show as well. This was on the eleventh July 11, 2019 and is still talked about. 

Netflix also opened up an upside-down cafe to boost the recall for Stranger Things. They launched a series of 80’s themed posters that held the clue for the cafe’s location and the time of the event. Londoners went around town for clues and many got to experience life in the Upside Down, even entering through the portal. 

This was a great way of optimizing costs while providing an immersive experience to the Stranger Things loyalists. 

Build strong branding for Experiential Marketing with Kimp

Experiential marketing is amazing and can make your brand the talk of the town quickly. But at the heart of every great marketing campaign is a strong brand identity. As you can see, people recognized Stranger Things even without the marketing spelling it out. Aspire for that and invest in branding that will stay in people’s minds for a long time. 

Wondering how? 

Work with the experienced and skilled team at Kimp through our unlimited design subscriptions: Kimp Graphics and Kimp Video. From logo design, mascot design, character illustrations, to logo animation – we do it all. We also develop brand style guides that will ensure you represent your brand consistently on all platforms. 

All this with unlimited revisions at a flat monthly fee and exciting discounts for new clients. 

Sign up to start a free trial!