Malick Ba

Stranger Things 2: Advertising, Branding, and Emotion.

October 31, 2017

Just to preface, there may be a spoiler alert in this article to those who haven’t committed watching the series yet (but nothing serious…so keep reading).


We touched on this briefly in last week’s recap, but we couldn’t not talk about the second season of Stranger Things. The Netflix mega-hit from last year is back and creepier than ever. One of the most successful aspects of the series is how well it plays tribute to the 80’s. What do I mean by this? Literally everything in the show is relevant to the time it’s in. The music, the clothing, the style, everything. One of the coolest parts about the series is how they kept brands that they have showcased intact to keep them contextually relevant as well. Ultimately, they’ve amplified their 80’s style theme by keeping ads the characters see on TV within the show, to adapt to the time they are in.For example. In the first few episodes, we know that the character 11 (or Elle), is obsessed with watching TV. As she’s flipping through channels, she sees an ad for Oreo’s that’s very…old fashioned let’s call it. While it’s such a minor detail, by having the advertisement on TV within the show that reflects the style of the times, viewers really get a sense of nostalgia. By evoking this emotion out of the viewers (even if it’s the simplest of ads), it increases the level of brand equity and loyalty. Especially for the people who grew up during that time and remember that specific commercial!

Another incredibly well thought out piece of product placement was within the same episode. The scene where Steve and Nancy are having a Kentucky Fried Chicken dinner at Barbara’s parents place. What I loved about this scene is that it reminds me of a classic American dinner that I’ve never actually had. With the classic branding (striped bucket and name not just being what I know as “KFC”), and a relevant context, it’s like product placement, but like, the good kind of product placement. One of the characters even threw in the “It’s finger lickin’ good!” line, which was a nice throwback.

Ultimately, the show brings back a nostalgic feeling in many viewers by showcasing products and brands from the 80’s in a relevant context to the show’s timeline. What I love about this is the dedication to showcase these brands in line and style with the timeline of the show without feel like it’s a blatant ad. For most people, seeing ads in this context brings evokes an emotion that can only be derived from nostalgia. I know it’s a specific selection, but the brands that were showcased got a chance to bring out that feeling for people engaged with those brands. it’s a great way to bring awareness to these brands while still being relevant in terms of the context of the show.

Malick Ba is an advertising and marketing specialist currently living in Toronto, Canada. As an alumni of both the University of Ottawa and Humber College, Malick specializes in communications, advertising, and marketing. Currently, Malick works at an advertising agency in downtown Toronto and is looking forward to how he can further leave his mark upon the advertising and marketing world. Follow him on Instagram, and connect with him on LinkedIn.


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