The 1980s are back in action, and there’s no cooler proof of this nostalgic revival than the smashing hit show, Stranger Things. Ever since this popular Netflix series first took over our screens in 2016, it has masterfully transported viewers of all generations back into the iconic decade, where some watch purely for the wistfulness it evokes, or to escape into an era that existed long before they were born.
There’s no way we can use a time machine, but there are other fun ways to take a trip back to the ‘80s and get the hang of experiencing the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana other than binge-watching the show itself.
Picture yourself as a local riding your bike with your gang as you uncover dark conspiracies and supernatural mysteries, engaging in epic Dungeons & Dragons quests in between, fearlessly battling demogorgons with flamethrowers, and occasionally brushing with death while dodging Vecna’s curse. Enter the haunting, pulsating synth-loaded theme, and you’re all set.
But, what if you find yourself strolling along Bugis+ one day and realize a rift has opened right before your eyes? The question is, would you dare enter the Upside Down?
Welcome to Stranger Things – The Encounter, an interactive event that takes fans on an immersive journey. The first event of its kind in Asia, this is in collaboration between Netflix and the Mighty Jaxx Group. This thrill-inducing event invades the Lion City from July 1 to October 1, 2023, at Bugis+, Level 2 and Level 7.
This 45-minute experience takes guests on a journey through the Upside Down, the dark and dangerous parallel dimension that houses the monsters in the show. It offers a variety of rooms from iconic settings from the popular show and provides fans a chance to snag exclusive merchandise.
Here’s what the fans are in for:
- Take on an immersive visual trip to seven iconic locations from the TV series: Starcourt Mall, Palace Arcade, Joyce Byer’s House, Hellfire Club, The Upside Down, The Lab, and the heinous Creel House. Explore these different rooms and watch out for interactive easter eggs-you might receive a call from Will for help to stop a rift from opening, too.
- Keep an eye out for hidden FRGMNTS collectibles scattered throughout the event area to unlock exclusive perks and rewards.
- Satisfy your cravings and replenish your energy by unwinding at the Starcourt Mixtape area, an immersive retail and themed F&B zone featuring Surfer Boy Pizza and Scoops Ahoy.
- Drop by Palace Arcade-themed Stranger Things Visitor Center (@Level 2) for a free-for-all spectacle, featuring photo opportunities with immersive lighting and sound effects and select merchandise for fans of all ages.
- Visit Starcourtmall to unwind with food and get your hands on event-exclusive merch. Bring home exclusive Stranger Things-themed merch such as the VHS Logo Light, Hellfire Club Demon Embossed Mug, T-shirt and tote bags, limited edition collector figurines, games, posters, and much more.
- The immersive retail experience spans approximately 45 minutes, with XPass tickets starting at just S$39 per person on weekdays. For the ultimate VIP experience, opt for the S$109 ticket, which includes an exclusive merchandise bundle. And for those who want to steer away from Vecna and the Demogorgons’ clutches, you can access the Starcourt Mall for S$15.
On a special note: Your XPass isn’t just an admission ticket, it’s your pass to cool digital collectibles. You can customize it with digital collectibles that you collect in the experience. Plus, grab a T-shirt or tote bag at the event and print your own design to take home a unique keepsake. And of course, we DO NOT recommend going to Hawkins alone, so tag your friends along.
The tickets for this exclusive encounter are limited, so while walk-ins are welcome, securing your spot and preferred time slot by booking tickets on the website is very much recommended. Prepare yourself for the actual encounter at Bugis+ on Mondays to Thursdays, from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Fridays to Sundays.
With its last season to date officially becoming Netflix’s most-watched English language series, Stranger Things 4 Volume 1 pulled in a total of 1.3 billion hours viewed in its first 28 days on the said platform, with the first season of the comedy horror TV show “Wednesday” skating next with approximately 1.24 billion hours of viewing. This phenomenon owes much of its success to the ingenious experiential marketing campaign surrounding it. Across the globe, people crave nothing more than to dive headfirst into the eerie and captivating universe of Stranger Things. Why? Thanks to some seriously brilliant strategy called experiential marketing.
What is experiential marketing?
Experiential marketing, also known as XM and engagement marketing, is a hands-on strategy that allows individuals to immerse themselves in a brand through events, virtual reality, interactive features, and other creative tactics.
These experiences are typically immersive, sensory, and participatory by nature. Consumers get a chance to see, touch, taste, and feel the brand for themselves. The point of these campaigns is to design tangible experiences that people won’t forget. Hence, they should be fresh, connective, exciting, and original.
XM in the B2B setting
While experiential marketing is commonly employed by B2C (business-to-consumer) companies, B2B (business-to-business) marketers have started to adopt client-centered strategies to deliver the same seamless customer experience to buyers as in the B2C setting.
Even so, there are some reservations about its relevance in the B2B arena- and the skepticism is reasonable. After all, the B2B purchasing process is significantly different from B2C.
B2C transactions typically involve emotional components like desire, instant gratification, peer influence, and personal identity, while B2B transactions are typically less emotionally driven, although some emotional factors are always at play, like trust, comfort and familiarity, corporate culture, and perceived value.
Purchase decisions in B2C are often made by a single individual often. In B2B, decisions are frequently made by multiple individuals or committees, resulting in a long buying process that spans weeks or even months.
Furthermore, B2C markets frequently offer more face-to-face customer interaction opportunities, such as in shopping malls, airports, hotels, or customer support. In contrast, B2B connections primarily occur at venues like trade shows, conferences, or exhibitions, necessitating that any experiential campaign aligns with this context.
Nevertheless, B2B clients are still human and nonetheless look for connection and crave personalized experiences despite being focused on more formal and business-related transactions
Leveraging experiential marketing provides an edge over B2B companies that do not employ this strategy because it allows for the creation of memorable and engaging interactions and fosters deeper relationships. Tapping into the human aspect of your clients increases brand loyalty, adaptability across industries, and valuable data insights; setting your brand apart from competitors.
In the next section, let’s explore how Stranger Things changed experiential marketing and how B2B business can follow their path in delivering quality customer experience.
The Stranger Things Experience: A deep dive into the marketing strategies
Considering the cosmic accolades the show has received, there are undoubtedly numerous lessons that marketers can glean from it. The strategic mix of nostalgia, entertainment, thrills, a dedicated fan base of over 16 million, and intelligent marketing initiatives empowered the franchise to effectively fuse contemporary marketing with the iridescent charm of the 1980s.
Beyond the production of high-quality, exhilarating episodes each TV season, the franchise revolutionized the entire customer journey through its interactive exhibition known as “Stranger Things: The Experience.”
Stranger Things: The Experience wasn’t the first experiential marketing campaign to grace the world, yet it proved to be a game-changer. It first debuted in Brooklyn, NY, in early May 2022, preceding the show’s late premiere in the same month. Since then, it has ushered in a huge audience in major cities like San Francisco, Atlanta, and London. Now, it has come to Asia for the first time as “Stranger Things, The Encounter”.
The Experience arrived in cities ahead of the show’s late May release, propelling the show’s viewership to unparalleled heights by building up anticipation and excitement. This scenario is proof enough that experiential marketing fulfills a role that traditional marketing can’t match: Enabling people to become a part of the brand, not just passive consumers.
In fact, a report reveals that 84% of event attendees say they have a more positive opinion of a company and its products after taking part in a branded event. 48% of brands gain an ROI of between 300% to 500% with event marketing.
Let’s explore how Stranger Things has embraced experiential marketing in their promotional endeavors and how can B2B (business-to-business) marketers learn from its example.
Tapping on cultural nostalgia
Set in the 1980s in Hawkins, Indiana, the show resonates with both older viewers who lived through that era and younger ones who have grown familiar with the decade through memorabilia and stories shared across generations.
The relatable characters, universal themes, and lots of 1980s references, from fashion to pop culture, create a shared cultural touchstone for viewers of all ages. This nostalgia-driven approach is masterfully interwoven into the show’s DNA, from its opening credits to its soundtrack featuring iconic retro music.
What B2B companies can learn from it:
Experiential marketing in B2B involves creating engaging connections with current and potential clients, which is applicable at events like conferences, trade shows, and other customized experiences dedicated to specific customer segments.
Some B2B experiential campaigns that use cultural nostalgia include:
- Hosting a themed event. This could include setting up a tradeshow booth that looks like a 1980s diner or hosting a networking event with vintage-themed decors, presentations, and activities.
- Creating nostalgic content: Curate content, such as videos, presentations, or demonstrations, that weaves in references to historical events, iconic figures, or pop culture moments while highlighting the brand’s relevance today.
- Historical Brand Storytelling: Share your brand’s history and evolution over the years, and emphasize the milestones, achievements, and contributions to industries. This can create a sense of continuity and nostalgia.
Take brands for a piggyback ride
Fans just can’t get their fill of the show (fast forward to Season 5, please!)- and it seems like brands caught the fever. A report by Fast Company says that Netflix struck around 75 brand partnerships to promote Stranger Things’ third season.
Check out some of the brands that made an appearance somewhere in the show’s S3:
- Coca-Cola: Vending machines, signs, drinks-this classic soda brand appears in nearly every single episode, making it the most prominent brand in the said season. In fact, it made a total of almost five and a half minutes of screen time.
- 7-Eleven: In episode five, a 7-Eleven store takes center stage, and then, in episode six, a 7-Eleven Slurpee is enjoyed, giving the brand more than two and a half minutes of screen time with its logo visible at all times.
- Eggos: Eggo waffles have soared in popularity, thanks to Eleven’s obsession. She’s often munching on them in the show, making her love for this breakfast treat a fan favorite. This led to a 14% sales surge in Q4 2017 and a social media frenzy during season 2’s October 2017 debut.
- Burger King: Burger King made its mark in five out of eight episodes, gracing the screen for a little over two minutes. It was part of the mall’s bustling storefronts and even made a cameo in takeout form during S3’s Chapter Six. Additionally, Burger King is among the brands in a cross-promotion deal with Stranger Things.
- Casio: The hippest watch in Hawkins and the top brand choice of Jim Hopper and Mike Wheeler dominated the screen for over eight minutes in the season. It could’ve toppled Coca-Cola over in prominence if they flaunted their wrists a bit more.
- Adidas: Appearance in every single episode, these trendy shoes are worn by Mike Wheeler and Steve Harrington, with occasional appearances in clothing worn by supporting characters.
- Chevrolet: Cars of this brand were featured prominently in nearly every episode of the show, with most of its four minutes of screen time dedicated to showcasing Jim Hopper’s 1987 Blazer SUV and Billy Hargrove’s 1979 Camaro.
What B2B companies can learn from it:
- Innovative Marketing: Embrace creative marketing approaches that resonate with your target audience.
- Diverse Audience Appeal: Aim for a broad audience appeal, just as Stranger Things attracts viewers of all ages, showcasing the benefits of targeting a wide demographic.
- Consistent Branding and Seamless Product Placement: Maintain consistency in branding and messaging to brace a unified brand image, much like Stranger Things’ consistent aesthetic and tone throughout its seasons. Seamlessly integrate your brand into your narrative to ensure authenticity and non-disruptive placement.
Leverage multi-platform marketing
Stranger Things secured a spot on Spotify by teaming up with the music streaming platform to match users with the show’s characters based on their musical preferences. This immersive experience brings listeners to the Upside Down by comparing the 13 lead characters’ musical tastes with those of the fans.
Lyft has also taken experiential marketing to a new level by partnering with Netflix to offer uniquely paranormal-inspired rides in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
For those looking to engage with the show in a gamified way, the Stranger Things game is available on app stores. Alternatively, you can explore the Stranger Things VR experience for a more realistic encounter.
To add elements of surprise, Unit 9 has created a bespoke 1980s-themed set, immersing guests in scenes from the series while incorporating extraterrestrial pranks throughout. This experiential endeavor brings the ’80s nostalgia to life in unexpected ways.
Given the said strategies, brands that incorporate gamification into their narratives, particularly for the sought-after millennial audience, have higher rates of thriving compared to those who stuck with traditional methods.
What B2B companies can learn from it:
- Multi-channel marketing: Integrating multi-channel strategies can help B2B brands extend their reach and boost their brand awareness among clients. Using multiple platforms and touchpoints, brands are able to resonate with a larger audience and generate lasting engagement that transcends geographical limits.
- Data-Driven Engagement: Utilize data-driven insights to tailor your marketing efforts across multiple channels. Spotify’s character matching and Lyft’s paranormal-inspired rides showcase the power of personalized experiences based on user data, which can be applied to various digital platforms your brand uses.
- Staying relevant: Tapping into current trends, staying culturally relevant, and inserting interactive elements such as gamification and AI can capture the attention of your target audience. Moreso, it can enhance their engagement across various marketing channels.
Think of things the Upside Down way
From the digital realm, we now shift into the physical one and delve into a smart maneuver that sent shockwaves to unexpecting fans-we’re talking about the 20-meter Upside Down rift installation at Bondi Beach in Australia, which was executed by Netflix overnight.
To add to the overall terrifying feel, Hazmat-clad officials tried to cordon off the gaping rift from intrigued onlookers. Complete with a glowing red core and twisting tentacle-like vines, passers-by are pretty much sure where this portal leads.
Stranger Things is known for its unexpected twists and turns, and its penchant for shock value. This installation perfectly aligned with the show’s branding, ensuring that the series’ vibe resonated with onlookers. Even those who hadn’t previously watched the show would likely be eager to catch up and binge-watch Season 4 upon its release.
What B2B companies can learn from it:
Invest in visual impact: Strive for striking visual impact in your marketing campaign to leave lasting impressions. This can be made evident in the layouts of your infographics, posters, and ebooks, and masterful editing of videos, teasers, and presentations. Keep in mind that impactful visuals boost brand recall and foster lasting impressions.
Location matters: Consider the location and context of your campaigns, especially in B2B marketing where reaching a specific audience is critical. By doing so, you can identify the local trends that keep your target market abuzz and determine which channels you can use most effectively to reach them. This localization strategy ensures that your campaigns are not only visually impactful but also culturally relevant and resonant.
Relevance to the audience: B2B marketing often targets specific industries, businesses, or professionals. Understanding the local context helps tailor your message and marketing strategies to be more relevant to the audience, addressing their particular challenges and needs.
Highlighting the strength of teamwork
The chances of getting out of the Upside Down alive are higher when Eleven and her friends unite their strengths. For several times in the series, her powers falter and it’s her friends’ teamwork that overcomes Vecna and the Mind Flayer – from Will’s sixth sense to the Scoop troop’s Russian translations. The same goes for the B2B realm, where partnerships and outsourcing can go a long way for your brand.
What B2B companies can learn from it:
- Enhanced Expertise: Outsourcing enables your brand to tap into specialized expertise. Partnering with external experts brings a diverse skill set to the table, ensuring that every aspect of your business receives enough attention for the needs to be addressed.
- Resource Optimization: Teamwork allows you to pool your resources effectively. In the B2B world, outsourcing can optimize your resources by delegating tasks to professionals, enabling your core team to focus on core competencies and strategic initiatives.
- Risk Mitigation: Collaborating with outsourcing partners spreads risk and responsibility. and provides your brand with flexibility, scalability, and resilience in the face of challenges or market fluctuations.
Taken as a whole, experiential marketing in the B2B setting is undeniably beneficial, as exemplified by the success of Stranger Things. By crafting immersive and memorable experiences, B2B brands can captivate their audience, foster stronger connections, and ultimately achieve remarkable results in the competitive business landscape. Embracing the power of experiential marketing is crucial in propelling your brand forward.
However, engaging in this initiative can be quite challenging, especially for B2B businesses that are employing it for the first time. In this case, partnering with a trusted lead generation company can be of great benefit.
When looking for an outsourcing ally, choose wisely. B2B lead generation can be challenging, so don’t hesitate to seek help from experts who can align your efforts with your business goals. Within this context, the selection of a dependable lead generation services provider, such as Callbox, holds paramount importance.
Just like Eleven sought out her friends’ help to defeat the treacherous enemies that plagued their hometown, partnering with B2B experts in your lead generation and appointment-setting journey can help you conquer industry-related hurdles with ease and confidence.