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Content Marketing, Strategy

4 Marketing Lessons From “Stranger Things”

Take some marketing cues from this Netflix cult classic

Adebisi Adewusi
November 30 2019

More than 40 million accounts watched Season 3 of the acclaimed Netflix show “Stranger Things” within the first four days of its release, and 18 million people finished the entire series. Apart from giving us a show to binge on, “Stranger Things” provided several insights on how marketers can reach consumers. Here are four marketing lessons we’ve learned from Netflix’s cult show.

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Partner up

Reach more consumers and capitalize on another brand’s audience reach through collaborations. “Stranger Things” partnered with Burger King (Upside-Down Whopper), and H&M (Poolside collection) to boost engagement and attract more audiences. Here are a couple of tips to help you nail brand collaborations.

Collaborate with the Right Brand: Partner with companies that strengthen your brand’s appeal and speak to your target customer base. Nike’s collaboration with “Stranger Things” appealed to fans’ obsession with both 80s pop culture and Nike’s cult shoe designs.

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Create Pre-Launch Buzz: Engineer buzz for your collaboration by providing sneak peeks, sharing video teasers, or dropping hints on social media. Nike’s campaign included a tweet referencing missing shipments from 1985, prompting fans of Nike and the show to speculate about the collection. Just don’t reveal too much information at the beginning.

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Watch where you place that product

As consumers increasingly shun adverts, product placements are reemerging as a great way to connect with consumers and increase brand recognition. Coca-Cola’s five-minute “New Coke” screen time on “Stranger Things” brought in roughly $1.5 million in product placement ad value. A few to-dos on product placement:

Partner with Streaming Platforms: Collaborate with streaming platforms like Netflix and HBO. You can reach out to them directly, or through a third-party intermediary. KFC, for example, used a third party to facilitate its appearance on the Netflix original.

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Make Placements Organic: When leveraging streaming platforms, target the shows watched by your audiences. Ensure the authentic pairing of your product and the show, and that product placements appear naturally. Avoid the hard sell here. Below, Karen sips on Coca-Cola at the pool during a scene in Season 3 of “Stranger Things.”

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Marketing, but make it relatable

“Stranger Things” featured plenty of relatable moments that caused fans to fall in love with its characters—from Joyce Beyers trusting her instincts when searching for Will, to first love kisses and fights. Here’s how you can make your brand relate to fans the “Stranger Things” way.

Focus on Inclusivity: Eleven’s gender fluidity and Robin’s LGBTQ character appeal to a larger audience. Your campaigns should reflect the community that you serve in terms of gender, age, geography, and socioeconomic background. Stick to modern gender portrayals and avoid appropriation and stereotypes.

Build Emotional Connections: Judging from the emotional Season 3, it was clear that fans were invested in the show. You too can create a strong emotional connection with consumers by going beyond expectations, giving them a sense of belonging and recognizing their needs. Aim to understand customers’ key emotional motivators through social listening and messaging analysis. Draw on your insights in your conversations with them.

Be Authentic: 90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when deciding which brands they like and support. Be transparent about all issues in your company, own up to your mistakes, and include user-generated photos and videos in your marketing.

Customer marketing challenges and opportunities

Go Global

“Stranger Things” is officially a global phenomenon. Netflix users in 190 countries including Antarctica watched the show, and viewers in 70 of those nations became devoted fans. Below are some strategies Netflix used to transform their content into a massive sensation.

Artwork Personalization: Netflix utilized artwork personalization to improve user experience. The brand discovered that fans of action and thriller films liked a poster image with Eleven, while comedy lovers preferred an image showing two of the show’s teens looking up to the sky, their mouths agape in disbelief.

Deliver 1:1 Experiences: Segment customers based on granular attributes such as psychographic and socioeconomic data and target them with hyper-personalized messages. Conduct A/B testing to know how to position your products to consumers.

Localization: To render their shows accessible to a wide audience, Netflix takes advantage of localization. Fans can watch the original “Stranger Things” in 20 different languages.

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Before implementing website localization, consider which languages and regions use your platform most and develop a strategy for adapting your website to various audiences and locations.

Roll credits

“Stranger Things” has undoubtedly made cultural waves, and Netflix is riding that popularity all the way to the bank. Instead of creating great content and calling it a day, the streaming platform folded the show into various other verticals, formed partnerships, and made sure location wouldn’t become a barrier wherever users wanted to watch the show. Maybe it was the marketing push that sent this show into our pop culture canon? Stranger things have happened…

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Adebisi Adewusi

Adebisi Adewusi is a freelance B2B writer and a Huffington Post Contributor. When she’s not creating compelling content for businesses, you’ll find her capturing moments with her Nikon d600.

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