Stranger Things 3 wasn’t perfect, but I’ll contend that it was better than the second season by a full leap. One of the things the showrunners pulled off that I never expected was quality product placement. I was really leery of this after news spread that Coke would be featured heavily in the show and that the ill-fated New Coke would have a place.
Before we get started, my wife and I just finished Stranger Things 3. I’m super sensitive to spoilers, so I won’t spoil a thing in this article. Every screenshot comes from the first two episodes of the new season, and they don’t hit on any of the key plot moments. So, don’t sweat spoilers. They won’t happen here. I wouldn’t do that to you.
Face it, when you hear about product placement in a marquee show like Stranger Things, a part of you cringes. It’s only natural. How dare they take something I love and sully it with marketing and ads!? A lot of shows do it, and I’d bet it’s done subtly enough that most of us don’t even notice. But, it still leaves a sour taste in the viewer’s mouth when it’s on display in that cringey way.
Stranger Things pulled it off
Stranger Things 3 pulls it off. Thanks to a clever blend of settings and classic iconography, the advertising in the third season actually makes the show feel more real. You see those old Gap, Orange Julius, and Pentax logos, and you just know you’re watching something set in the 80s.
Not all of this was paid for. Some of the brands and stores referenced and featured in the show are completely defunct now, like Sam Goody. Adding stores and brands like that serves the overall purpose of manufactured authenticity.
Kudos to the Stranger Things showrunners; the product placement here is on point.