New Coke, the soft drink revamp that caused a nationwide revolt 34 years ago is back with a vengeance, and the thanks – or blame – is owed entirely to Netflix.
Coca-Cola drinkers will be given the chance to try the vintage beverage once more as part of a promotional campaign between the drinks company and Netflix, ahead of the upcoming third season of Stranger Things.
The new season of the blockbuster series will take place in the summer of 1985, the same summer when Coke infamously tried change its original formula but was met with widespread backlash from angry consumers.
Reaction to the so-called ‘sweeter’ and ‘smoother’ version of the drink saw sales figures plummet and the company received thousands of angry letters and phone calls to its Atlanta head office, demanding they revert the recipe back to a more familiar taste.
Pulled from the shelves after just 79 days, New Coke has since been considered one of the biggest marketing blunders of all time.
New Coke, the soft drink revamp that caused a nationwide revolt 34 years ago is back with a vengeance - and it's all thanks to Netflix's Stranger Things
The new season of the blockbuster series will take place in the summer of 1985, the same summer when Coke infamously tried change its formula
But 34 years on, the brains behind the drink’s ironic 2019 relaunch are hoping the product will help to stir nostalgia among its consumers this time around, rather than resentment.
‘When Netflix told us Season 3 was going to be set in the summer of 1985 — with the tagline that “one summer could change everything” — that rang so true for us,’ said Oana Vlad, director of Coca-Cola North America.
‘The summer of 1985 did in fact change everything for us with the introduction of New Coke, which was also arguably one of the biggest pop culture moments of that year.’
Workers had to retrieve the New Coke recipe from the safe for the Stranger Things partnership.
They also had to recreate the logo and original coloring of the first New Coke cans from over three decades ago.
The project was considered top secret and took more than six months to complete.
Beginning Thursday, Coca-Cola will release a 500,000 cans of of the disfavored drink as part of a Stranger Things promotional package.
An ‘upside-down’ Stranger Things-inspired vending machine will also pop up in select cities across the country this summer to dispense free cans of New Coke for a limited time, starting in New York.
Workers had to retrieve the New Coke recipe from the safe for the ‘Stranger Things’ partnership. They re-created it over six months, including the original design and coloring
New Coke is considered a marketing flop and was replaced with the original recipe just 79 days after it was launched, following a plummet in sales figures
But 34 years on, Coca-Cola will release a 500,000 cans of New Coke as part of a Stranger Things package - dividing opinion among Coca-Cola drinkers
‘The partnership with Coke gives Netflix the opportunity to reach a massive audience via one of the most recognizable brands in the world in a deeply authentic way,’ said Netflix Head of Global Partner Marketing Barry Smyth.
Netflix has teamed up with around 75 other companies to draw attention to Stranger Things and help enhance the show’s authentic retro feel.
The brands include the likes of Levi’s and Baskin and Robbins, who are set to release new flavors ahead of the upcoming season, slated for release on July 15.
In another deal, H&M are also going to be offering a line of 80’s-inspired clothing, including T-shirts, swimsuits, visors and flip-flops. Some of the items will have Stranger Things logos, but some will be made to replicate clothes worn by the characters.
Reaction to New Coke's relaunch has been mixed, with many on Twitter recalling their 'traumatic' first sips of the drink back in 1985. However, some say they'd be willing to give it another try.
'This is pretty cool!,' exclaimed one tweeter. 'I'll buy a few so I can show my kids how awful it tasted.'
'Ugh,' said another. 'I still remember the taste after all these years.'
Creators of the show, Matt and Ross Duffer, said New Coke was always going to play a part in the show, before any commercial agreements were even in place.
‘It was one of the first ideas in our Season 3 brainstorm. It was the summer of ’85, and when you talk about pop culture moments, New Coke was a really big deal,’ the Duffer brothers told the New York Times.
‘It would have been more bizarre to not include it.’
Reaction to New Coke's relaunch has been mixed, with many on Twitter recalling their 'traumatic' first sips of the drink back in 1985
Netflix, which has 149 million subscribers, is inventing new revenue streams by bolstering corporate partnerships and merchandising deals. They collaborated with more than 70 other companies for the Stranger Things Series
Barry Smyth, Netflix’s head of partnership marketing concurred, revealing the idea came up during a board meeting in 2017 – which was first presented as a flippant comment.
‘We asked the question, “What would really blow it out of the water for this campaign?”’ Smyth recalled. ‘[The Duffer brothers] joking said, “Bring back New Coke.” They thought it was a joke. We took it as a brief.’
Netflix, which has 149 million subscribers, is inventing new revenue streams by bolstering corporate partnerships and merchandising deals, to give themselves a different way to market its shows without interrupting them with commercials.
However, the Duffer brothers say the use of iconic vintage brands and products is not a ploy to bolster the show's budget or their own wallets.
They believer the inclusion of products such as New Coke are essential in giving Stranger Things the authentic feel of some of their own favorite movies from the 1980’s.
‘When we were kids, we were obsessed with those self-lacing Nikes in ‘Back to the Future Part II,’ and, of course, we loved that Elliott baited E. T. with Reese’s Pieces!,’ they said in a joint email to the New York Times. ‘When we were kids, that simply made Elliott more relatable, more ordinary, more like us.’