When Netflix dropped the latest trailer for the upcoming third season of Stranger Things yesterday, it gave us a major flashback to summer of 1985. And one very 80s thing that stood out to me was New Coke.
Right at the beginning of the trailer, Mrs. Wheeler (played by Cara Buono, another ’80s commercial legend in her own right) can be seen taking a long, lipstick-smeared sip of New Coke. If you think that looks like some blatant product placement for New Coke, you’d be correct! CNN says Coca-Cola is bringing it back.
In case you don’t know about cola wars, New Coke was Coca-Cola’s failed attempt at rebranding Coke. New Coke was considered a disaster; the new formula was sweeter than the original. It was hated and boycotts were threatened unless Coca-Cola went back to the original recipe. Coca-Cola tried to launch it again in the ’90s as Coke II, but you can’t trick a soda-slurping tastebud, and Coke II failed just as miserably.
After nearly three decades away, New Coke will be sold for a limited-time in limited quantities in honor of Stranger Things. The third season takes place in 1985, so a New Coke promotional tie-in makes sense. Coca-Cola Senior Vice President of Marketing Stuart Kronauge says the move to bring back New Coke is a way for them to not “take themselves too seriously.” Other Coke products, like Coke Zero, will be Stranger Things branded as well. Coca-Cola says they’ve produced 500,000 cans of New Coke.
I’m ok with Netflix pandering to brands that can bring products back from the archives. But product placement aside, it makes sense for a Stranger Things/New Coke deal. New Coke’s mascot was Max Headroom, and that dude is still more terrifying than any demogorgon that crawled out of The Upside Down.