While Netflix for years has insisted it has no plans to introduce an ad-supported layer to its streaming service, it has formed a new teaming with Coca-Cola that fuses both brands in a promotion for the new season of Stranger Things.
Such is the heat on the show and the rarity of an opportunity to have proximity to Netflix and its 149 million global subscribers that the beverage giant is even bringing back “New Coke.” The refresh of the company’s famous (if secret) formula proved such a fiasco when it was rolled out and then recalled in 1985 that it will be forever taught in business schools as a cautionary tale.
In the new activation, unveiled Tuesday on Coke’s social-media platforms and YouTube channel, a limited run of the distinctive cans will be made available through select sales channels but not in mass retail outlets. The Duffer Brothers also directed a co-branded spot (watch it above) promoting Season 3 of the show, which debuts July 4. The ad, which will play in movie theaters, is a remake of an actual New Coke spot from back in the day. It shows characters relaxing in a theater, with their extra-large, red-and-white-branded Cokes and popcorn. As eerie synthesizer music of the show’s score plays, the Coke logo flips upside down, signaling to the viewer that they are in the realm of Stranger Things.
No Coke presence is planned for the streaming platform in a traditional advertising sense, but New Coke is an element in the third season of the show. The companies worked for more than a year to map out the partnership, which does not involve any payment to Netflix by Coke, the companies have said.
Ads in the streaming arena take many forms. Hulu, one of Netflix’s streaming competitors, does offer an ad-supported tier of its service. Amazon Prime runs ads on its live streams of NFL games and other sporting events, but does not interrupt its programming with ads.
Roku, a major conduit of streaming, has ramped up its ad and sponsorship business considerably in recent years, enabling brands to “take over” its home page, among other initiatives.