Coca-Cola Is Bringing Back 500,000 Cans of Its Hated New Coke for ‘Stranger Things’ Promo Tie-In
Yours truly was a pretty curious kid in 1985, and though I refrained from drinking soda (until about three years later), I remember that family members and neighbors had some serious gripes against the introduction of New Coke, that legendary soft-drink debacle. Given all of the real matters that people could worry about, one wonders why a beverage resonated so much with folks. But it did, and it made them quite apoplectic. Fast forward 34 years, and Coca-Cola has decided to reintroduce the product—as a promotional tie-in with the third season of “Stranger Things,” a commonly chronicled Promo Marketing favorite and a surefire summer hit.
We mentioned it yesterday on the podcast, but starting today, Coca-Cola is issuing 500,000 cans of New Coke, with The Outerhaven noting how thirsty (or “desperate,” if one believes that nobody should have ever brought the beverage back to life) consumers can obtain the liquid. Our favorite way comes from the special promotional themed vending machines that will appear in major cities around the U.S., making us hopeful that our hometown, Philadelphia, will be one of them. That isn't to say we want to actually purchase any of the stuff—our personal interactions with it and recalled accounts of its why-does-this-exist nature are enough to give us pause. However, we can celebrate New Coke’s link to “Stranger Things,” which has gained a solid reputation for its skill at infusing the series’ action with 1980s-specific throwbacks.
— The Coca-Cola Co. (@CocaColaCo) May 21, 2019
Since the third season of the Netflix smash will occur in 1985, the showrunners, according to the New York Times, wanted a key pop culture moment, no matter its dumpster-fire nature, to be a prominent part of the action, with New Coke set to “appear in several episodes of the show.” Given that the drink topped this CB Insights’ list of the biggest product failures of all time, we wonder how many articles like this one that consumers will read about the negative reactions that New Coke endured three decades ago. We are more curious, though, about how “Stranger Things” will use the canned catastrophe in the show, and how often (if at all) use of the soda will end up in reviews of the episodes.
Coca-Cola is partnering with Netflix to promote the third season of "Stranger Things" by re-releasing New Coke. Here's a look at what's remembered as the beverage giant's biggest misstep and a marketing failure. https://t.co/5toYGkw1Yb pic.twitter.com/R9P7Zuf2PA
— CNBC (@CNBC) May 22, 2019
Through “Stranger Things”-branded New Coke cans and limited-edition Coke and Coke Zero Sugar glass bottles, the beverage company will be receiving additional love from Matt and Ross Duffer—the show’s creators—who have made their admiration for Coke quite obvious over their program’s two seasons. Looking ahead to the July 4 season opener, we are curious to know how many cans and bottles will sell before then and how the placement on the show could come to affect overall sales.
Based on my memories of the rejection that consumers gave New Coke in its first run, this writer—who, yes, indulged in the product way (way, way) back when just to know what the fuss was all about—would expect for consumers to nab most of the cans no matter the abundance of critical press. That is more a commendation of “Stranger Things” than it is of Coca-Cola, because the show has such clout among its followers that anything the Duffers look to tout stands a great chance of succeeding.
Companies that came to prominence in the ’80s, read that last sentence closely. Among many achievements, “Stranger Things” has shown that what is old can be new again, giving hope to nostalgia buffs everywhere who might be eager for their long-treasured products, shows, collectibles, etc. to have a second life.