It’s been nearly a month since Stranger Things debuted on Netflix—more than ample time for the curious to binge watch and demand a Season Two. In just the first week after its release in the US, Stranger Things leaped over Orange is the New Black as the most popular digital original series with over three times the audience demand of the former top digital original. In the arts and entertainment category, Stranger Things is the most searched not only in the US, but globally as well.
Unlike many shows or blockbuster films, the hype leading up to Stranger Things was small, but effective. The lack of hype, but quality of content, created an “upside down” marketing phenomenon in which consumers sold the show to other consumers. Even horror author Stephen King is singing the show’s praises, and not just because he’s an obvious influence.
Set in the 1980’s, the supernatural thriller pays homage to popular media from the same era, with government conspiracies, missing children and the creepy unexplained. It has been compared to the works of Stephen King, John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg, shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files and even the video game Silent Hill.
Although consumer-to-consumer marketing had a huge role in the success of the new franchise, a large part of the show’s success can be attributed to creative marketing efforts by Netflix, as well. One such activation included a successful partnership with the livestreaming site Twitch on July 14. The activation consisted of a four-hour live broadcast ending with eight minutes of the first Stranger Things episode. “Twitch Plays Haunted Basement,” which took place in the now-infamous basement from the show, offered an interactive experience in which fans in the Twitch chat voted on what happened next.
“As our team of Influencers played various games . . . in our 80’s-themed basement set, Twitch chat voted on creepy things to befall our unwitting victims—flying books, flickering lights, doors that would creak open to reveal sinister, singing, dead-eyed dolls only to slam shut at random, ringing phones that would jump off their cradles when you tried to touch them, and more,” Twitch representatives said in a statement.
Speaking of creepy, fans can explore the first floor of the infamous house in either virtual reality or 360-degree video. (Although viewers should be warned of spoilers, if you haven’t watched the show yet.)
Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer have even considered an 8-bit video game version of the show, inspired by a plethora of fan art surfacing across the internet. During an interview with IGN, the brothers stated that they had been talking to Netflix about merchandising as well. While the show’s sudden popularity was a welcome surprise, the opportunity for additional marketing isn’t lost on the writers.
“We turned in the last visual effects shot, walked away and then reviews and then a week later, it was all on [Netflix] and everybody was watching it,” Ross Duffer said in the interview. “I remember waking up Friday morning to all these tweets of people that had finished the show already. It’s been a whirlwind for sure and I think it’s bizarre, but in the best way.”
Although Netflix has not officially renewed Stranger Things for a second season, a panel dedicated to the show was presented during TCA (Television Critics Association) press tour day during the last week of July, indicating that we haven’t seen the last of that little town in Indiana.