On November 25, fans returned to the fictional town of Stars Hollow to catch up with Lorelei and Rory for Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life. Almost 10 years after the last episode aired in 2007, Netflix aired a four-part, four-season revival that continues the story of a mother and daughter living in a quaint, Connecticut town. While the series has been in re-runs for some time and already comes with its own dedicated following, it wasn’t until Netflix picked up the show that fans really took notice—thanks largely to an experiential marketing campaign and a massive build-up to the series’ four last words.
The series’ conclusion was so highly anticipated that #TheFourLastWords became a trending topic on social media and the Gilmore Girls official Instagram account urged fans not to spoil it for others. Fans can head to the Stars Hollow website to create and share custom buttons pledging their allegiance to secrecy or telling others not to spoil it for them, either. (Don’t worry, you won’t find spoilers here because we’re not buttfaced miscreants.)
Speaking of the official Instagram account, Netflix has been posting photos for months to get fans psyched for the show’s return. The first one, naturally, featured two cups of coffee from inside Luke’s Diner. Many of the pictures that followed, like this plate of pop tarts with an apple, had people speculating what would happen based on what they learned from previous episodes.
A number of characters also started popping up on the official Gilmore Girls Instagram account, such as Rose “Gypsy” Abdoo and Grant-Lee “Town Troubadour” Phillips.
The most talked about activation, however, was a pop-up Luke’s Diner promotion on October 5 that transformed some 200 coffee shops around the country into the show’s iconic restaurant. From 7 a.m. until noon, coffee-lovers were able to pick up a free cup of java, meet other fans of the show and take advantage of the many photo ops, like a cut-out of Luke and his strict guidelines. The experiential marketing activation fostered a sense of community, got people talking and several fans donned their best plaid shirts and baseball caps just for the occasion.
Netflix’s branded filter included an image of a toaster and sign from Luke’s and was viewed 880,000 times that day. Snapchat said the one-day marketing stunt reached more than 500,000 people. Hashtags dominated social media following the activation, including #LukesDiner, which garnered over 32,000 Instagram posts and over 43,000 on Facebook alone. #HappyBirthdayGilmore received over 14,000 mentions on Facebook as well.
— [a]listdaily (@alistdaily) October 5, 2016
For those who really, really want to visit Stars Hollow, a dedicated website for the fictional town contains information about the show’s locations as well as the town’s history. There’s even an email address that can be used to ask Luke life advice.
Gilmore Girls is part of Netflix’s “family initiative,” revisiting the popular series that now ties two generations together. Fuller House has become a flagship series for the company’s plan, whose data and focus groups found parents flocking to old movies and TV series from the ‘80s on weekend evenings. “If you look at series popular in the ‘80s they were much more family oriented,” Cindy Holland, Netflix’s vice president of original content, told The Wall Street Journal. “Parents were telling us they were watching these shows with their kids because there wasn’t anything on traditional networks but contest shows. That was a white-space area of opportunity for us.”
For series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino, Gilmore Girls: A Year In the Life isn’t going to be an ongoing thing, but rather, like catching up with some old friends.
“We don’t consider this a reboot,” she told The Wall Street Journal. “It’s more like, ‘Come back and see where our girls are 10 years later.’ Then everyone can go on their merry way.”