If you were alive and culturally literate during the 1980s, then you no doubt remember the debacle that went down when Coca-Cola made the controversial decision to rebrand its iconic soft drink. “New Coke,” as it was called, was a marketing disaster. The slightly-sweeter twist on the classic soda was widely panned, and after only a few short weeks during the summer of 1985, it was quickly discontinued.
And yet somehow, in 2019, it’s now back.
According to The New York Times, Netflix is largely to credit (or blame?) for this development. The streaming service is developing a new season of “Stranger Things,” its hit supernatural thriller series that’s set in the 1980s. Because the upcoming arc takes place in 1985, the company has decided that New Coke should be a part of the story. With New Coke returning to the airwaves, Coca-Cola has also decided to make the vintage drink available in stores for a limited time.
“We asked the question, ‘What would really blow it out of the water for this campaign?'” said Barry Smyth, head of partnership marketing at Netflix. “They jokingly said, ‘Bring back New Coke.’ They thought it was a joke. We took it as a brief.”
Bringing back a failed soda from 34 years ago might seem like a kooky idea, but it’s actually part of a new business strategy at Netflix. The company is hoping to bring in new customers by ramping up corporate partnerships and forging new connections with consumers. Netflix told the Times that it’s reached agreements with roughly 75 brands like Coca-Cola to spread the word about its programming.
As for Matt and Ross Duffer, the creators of “Stranger Things,” including New Coke on the show was an easy decision. Given that their upcoming season takes place in summer 1985, and that New Coke was an undeniable cultural phenomenon at that time, their decision was a no-brainer.
“It was one of the first ideas in our Season 3 brainstorm,” the Duffer brothers told the Times. “It was the summer of ’85, and when you talk about pop culture moments, New Coke was a really big deal. It would have been more bizarre to not include it.”