Netflix is transporting fans back to the Upside Down today with Season 2 of Stranger Things and has unleashed a bevy of activations to make sure that the general public never forgets. After unorthodox marketing like character-driven pedicabs and personal, targeted spoilers on Twitter, the streaming service culminated its promotion with a Stranger Things Lens on Snapchat, using augmented reality to immerse viewers.
Turning on the Lens presents the user with a gloomy, suspicious doorway, inviting them to step inside. Once they do, they are presented with a faithful recreation of the Byers living room from the show, complete with desperately twinkling Christmas lights and Demogorgon claws grasping from a portal to the Upside Down, all to the pulsing, downright Pavlovian ’80s synth theme song.
The soundtrack plays another role in the Lens: users can only unlock it by using Snapchat’s Shazam feature on the show’s theme song. Beyond just an immersive environment and spooky ambiance, the Stranger Things Lens promises interactive easter eggs for eagle-eyed users.
There are also a trio of filters for those who want to take a selfie with Eleven’s trademark nosebleed or from the Upside Down, but unlike the Stranger Things Lens, no hoop-jumping is necessary to unlock them.
Netflix is no stranger to hiding clues and secrets in their promotional materials. The streaming service put up billboards for a fictional power company, with a working 1-800 number that plays a vaguely unsettling message when called.
Less secretive were the streaming service’s numerous merchandising efforts, from conventional offerings like toys and a VHS-lookalike box set of Season 1 to appearances at Louis Vuitton catwalks during Fashion Week UK in September to a collaboration with Sony on official Stranger Things Ghostbusters Reeboks.
Actually, Netflix wasn’t the first company to promote the new Stranger Things season with a virtual experience: Farmers Insurance unveiled a creepy VR haunted house on October 13, featuring spooky stories about some of their “unbelievable claims” as told by J K Simmons.
Farmers may have shared unbelievable stories, but Lyft’s partnership with the Netflix show created them. Several Lyft cars were outfitted with flickering lights and animatronic claws to terrify unsuspecting riders, who were finally accosted by men in hazmat suits offering Eggo waffles through the open window.
It’s no surprise that so many brands jumped at the chance to work with the record-setting thriller series. Excitement for the show has reached a fever pitch that simply including the phrase “Stranger Things” in the subject line of an email nearly doubles engagement. If—but more likely when—the show gets a third season, Netflix may need to move mountains to outdo themselves.