How a Promotional T-shirt for a Town of 6,000 Made It to 'Stranger Things'
When a town’s chief claim to fame is being the birthplace of the man who coined the term “spelunker,” any chance to gain renown is likely a welcomed one. Such is the case with Waupaca, Wis., whose population, while growing, has barely eclipsed 6,000 residents. No matter, the tiny city has gained a bit of lasting renown through its T-shirt-inspired presence on “Stranger Things,” with the Appleton Post-Crescent looking at how the Badger State destination won that opportunity.
Wisconsin joins Minnesota and Missouri as locations that have received promotional boosts from the hit Netflix show. In doing so, the state has furthered the reputation of Dustin, played by Gaten Matarazzo, as “the graphic T-shirt-wearing kid,” according to former show costume designer Kimberly Adams. Over the science fiction program’s two seasons—it’s hard to believe that we went all of 2018 without new episodes—the character has definitely accumulated many fans, leading to the aforementioned publication’s curiosity over what led the production team to give Waupaca, of all places, a shout-out.
Appleton Post-Crescent "Mystery solved: How a Waupaca T-shirt made it onto 'Stranger Things'" https://t.co/YzjL0RPLi6
— Wisconsin Arts Board (@WIArtsBoard) January 24, 2019
As anyone who has watched “Stranger Things” knows, the show has an incredibly vintage feel, and the inclusion of the shirt, even though its date of origin is not revealed in the article, reinforces that vibe—especially if we consider the show's early-'80s setting as a time of minimalistic T-shirt designs. Adams noted that nobody necessarily aimed to specifically give Waupaca the publicity, explaining that, “We tried loads of vintage T-shirts on Gaten, and the ones that felt right for his character went to legal for clearance, and from there, we built him a closet of T-shirts. There was no question that his character had to be the graphic T-shirt-wearing kid.”
In making him that, the production and design crew had an Indiana-set show throw a bone to a little Wisconsin city whose non-residential standout element is that it's home to one of the world’s largest independent iron foundries. Regardless of Waupaca’s clout, “Stranger Things” has helped to grant the location television immortality. As the third season of the show, set to drop on July 4, beckons, one wonders which other sites and cities will receive a plug as Gaten and his peers test their might against the supernatural. Since some of us here at Promo Marketing are diehard supporters of the show, we would certainly not mind seeing some Pennsylvania-related references make their way onto apparel items as they do so. Stranger things have happened, after all.