COCA-COLA ENTERS THE UPSIDE DOWN
New Coke is coming back for Stranger Things Season 3.
Season 3 of Stranger Things is right around the corner. That’s more vague 80’s references, more Gaten Matarazzo goodness and more Dungeons & Dragons. BRING ON THE DEMOGORGONS!
And if you don’t get any of those references, crawl out of the rock you’ve been living under and sign up for Netflix. Everyone else has, even the marketing gurus behind Coca-Cola.
If you’ve read our past articles, you may know I’m a Coca-Cola fanboy. They’re expanding their product line across the board, and I applaud it all: mixed drinks? Sure. Flavored diet drinks in groovy new cans? I’m in. Coffee? I’ll try anything once.
And now Stranger Things is bringing back a new-to-me soft drink I missed out on when it initially came and went circa 1985, the same year that Season 3 takes place.
You remember 1985, right? Super Mario Bros. came out for the N.E.S., the Live Aid Concert rocked the world, Michael Jordan won Rookie of the Year, and Coca-Cola released New Coke to rave reviews and roaring applause!
Okay, maybe not that last one. In fact, it could be said that New Coke was a bit of a flop.
Riding the Wave of Nostalgia
If you don’t remember 1985, we have something in common. I was born more than ten years later and have only known New Coke from my sophomore marketing class as an example of brand suicide-via-innovation.
But no longer! No longer will New Coke be a simple horror story among marketing undergrads. No longer will it be a long-lost drink buried with the 80’s. Yup, it’s coming back.
And this time, the well-known flop is becoming Coca Cola’s latest marketing ploy. Usually, when a company makes a mistake as big as New Coke, they try to bury it forever. Frito-Lay doesn’t like to remind investors of their 2005 Cheetos flavored-lip balm at board meetings, the Windows Vista operating system won’t be making a debut on commercials anytime soon and the merchandising section for Harley Davidson probably won’t be highlighting it’s 90s era venture into perfume sales to shore up shallowing profit margins.
In fact, by owning it, Coca-Cola may turn their once flop into a big win – just check out the Twitter thread following the New Coke team-up teaser with the Stranger Things cast!
Honesty? Owning up to one’s mistakes? Setting aside your ego and using self-deprecating humor? *GASP* That will never work!
Settle down, Machiavelli. Honesty isn’t always a bad communications strategy. Don’t believe us?
Brands do their best to look flawless in the eyes of the public. In the face of a mistake? Companies deny it, or defend their positions, or try and cover it up (which grows more and more impossible as the Internet seeps further into our everyday lives).
When they own it, though? Companies become more human and their customers are able to build real relationships – and when honest communication begins flowing, so does the cash.
Take Domino’s for example – in 2009, they answered a growing flood of Internet criticism with direct, open reception. “Your pizza sucks,” became “Our pizza sucks” and “Our pizza sucks” became the new rallying cry for their Pizza Turnaround marketing plan.
By 2014, Domino’s went from America’s #1 cardboard-crust-pizza chain to the country’s fastest growing pizza chain, no cardboard included except the box it comes in.
Sure, Coca-Cola is rolling out New Coke as a target for nostalgic low-blows, but they’re big boys. I think they can take it. In the meantime, they’ve tied themselves in with the pop culture phenomenon that is Gatin Matarazzo (seriously, the kid oozes charisma) and inserted themselves into a larger conversation.
We’ll consider that one a big, fat W for Coca-Cola.
If you want to get a taste of the ‘80’s, the wonders of the modern world make it easy. Get New Coke delivered right to your door here!
Maybe your marketing isn’t as ambitious as Coca-Cola’s, but could you honestly leverage your brand’s shortcomings to help grow business?
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