Apparently, the power of nostalgia has the capacity to resurrect products that were complete disasters way back when. In honor of “Stranger Things,” Coca-Cola will be reviving the notorious “New Coke” for a limited time, reports CNN.
Season 3 of “Stranger Things” will debut on Netflix July 4 and unfolds during the summer of 1985, during which Coca-Cola presented a new recipe (“New Coke”) that Americans roundly rejected, becoming one of the biggest marketing failures in history.
“So-called New Coke was a flop: Consumers reacted so poorly to the new drink that Coca-Cola pulled it from shelves after a few months,” reports CNN. “New Coke was rebranded as Coke II, and sold in some places after 1985. But this is the first time Coca-Cola is bringing back New Coke with that branding.”
Stuart Kronauge, president of Coke’s sparkling business unit and senior vice president of marketing for Coca-Cola North America, told CNN Business that the revival of New Coke is a way to show everyone that the company does “not take ourselves too seriously.”
“Maybe a while ago we wouldn’t have done this,” Kronauge said. “But we’re changing and trying to innovate in ways that are beyond traditional new products. This is a cultural innovation.”
Kronauge argued that the marketing trick is a way for Coca-Cola to reach audiences in an ever-changing media landscape where television spots and billboards have been rendered nearly useless.
“Buying a 30-second ad to drop into a certain time-frame is not as valuable as it once was,” Kronauge said told CNN business. “The world is changing into streaming and non-ad platforms and subscription-based platforms. So it’s important for us to make sure that we are where our consumers’ eyeballs and hearts and spirits are.”
Barry Smyth, Head of Global Partner Marketing at Netflix, told CNN that the Coke partnership will give the company an entryway into internet viral marketing. “We exist on the internet, and Coke has a century of experience in building consumer products that are physical,” he said.
Bringing back New Coke took considerable effort, according to the Associated Press, with the company having to comb through decades of archives to both recover the recipe and the proper can design. “All told, everything took about six months and was top secret,” Peter Shoemaker, director of sparkling category commercialization, told the AP.
CNN provided some ways to buy the product as well as the other “Stranger Things”-themed products that Coca-Cola will be rolling out this summer:
There are three ways for customers to get the retro product: As a gift when they buy limited-edition “Stranger Things” Coke and Coke Zero Sugar glass bottles online starting Thursday, through “Stranger Things” themed pop up vending machines that will be in cities this summer, or as a giveaway when they purchase a gift or ticket at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta. Coca-Cola has produced under 500,000 of the New Coke 12-ounce cans, and expects to run out quickly.
Of course, Coke is not the only company to have a run-in with rebranding failures. Fox News listed some of the biggest product failures that children of the 80s and 90s will remember, including Pepsi A.M. and Crystal Pepsi as well as the Apple Newton and the McDonald’s Arch Deluxe.