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New Coke coming back to shelves in honor of 'Stranger Things' season 3 release

The summer of 1985 changed everything for the characters in the Netflix series, “Stranger Things.” It was also the year everyone was drinking New Coke.

ATLANTA — Coca-Cola is taking fans back to 1985 in honor of season three of “Stranger Things," which returns to Netflix on July 4 – by re-releasing its controversial ‘New Coke.’

New Coke didn’t sit well with fans – who reacted so poorly to the product that it was pulled from shelves months after it was released. Coca-Cola admits that the branding strategy didn’t connect with audiences – partially because Coke struggled to find out how to describe its taste.

“No one could really come up with a really good definition of what the difference in the taste was, said Harold Burson, the co-founder of what today is one of the largest public relations firms in the world, Burson-Marsteller, in an interview with Coca-Cola.

Some fans said it was “sweeter” than traditional Coke. They also did not like the branding. What followed was a landslide of letters, phone calls and protests.

Credit: Coca-Cola Company
New Coke cans roll off a production line near Atlanta earlier this month. On Thursday May 23, Coca-Cola will release a limited number of New Coke cans online as part of a partnership with the hit Netflix show "Stranger Things."

Stranger Things” creators Ross and Matt Duffers came up with the idea to put New Coke in the show as a kind of promotion, according to CNN. The drink will also be available this summer for a limited promotional run, Coca-Cola said in a release.

“In a world of shifting media consumption, we continue to challenge ourselves to find creative and meaningful ways to participate in non-advertising platforms like Netflix to engage with the millions of fans who subscribe to streaming content services,” said Geoff Cottrill, senior vice president of strategic marketing, Coca-Cola North America. “We’re excited to partner with Netflix and play a key role in recreating the summer of 1985 in a uniquely Coca-Cola way.”

The Duffer Brothers are “longtime” Coke fans, they told The New York Times, stating that they wanted to capture the culture of 1985, stating in a joint email that you cant image 1985 without New Coke and it would be “bizarre” not to include it.

“One thing that makes 'Stranger Things' so special is its commitment to authentically portraying the decade in which the show takes place,” said Stuart Kronauge, president of Coca-Cola North America's sparkling business unit, in a Coca-Cola release. “One thing that makes 'Stranger Things' so special is its commitment to authentically portraying the decade in which the show takes place. When we heard that Season 3 would be set in the summer of 1985 and they wanted to integrate New Coke, we knew we had an opportunity to revisit that time period in a fun and unexpected way that would also allow us to be part of one of this year’s most anticipated pop culture moments.”

Moviegoers will also get a chance to see the Coke-Netflix partnership in action, with a first-ever advertisement for New Coke, directed by the Duffer Brothers. The ad will run online and in select theaters starting May 24, featuring “Stranger Things” characters drinking New Coke in a movie theater.

New Coke is returning to shelves May 23, at 5 p.m. EST. A limited number of 12 ounce cans will be released with the same recipe from 1985, as part of a bundle that includes two New Coke cans along with a limited-edeition and numbered Stranger Things / Coca-Cola and Coke Zero Sugar 8-ounce glass bottles.

Credit: Coca-Cola Company

A Stranger Things-inspired pop-up vending machine will also start appearing in select cities, starting May 23 in New York City.

Fans who buy a ticket to World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta will get the chance to try New Coke as well, while supplies last.

Because the limited supply of New Coke is only expected to last a few weeks, Coca-Cola also is unveiling limited-edition Stranger Things packages to engage more fans in the partnership, including a 16-oz. can of Coke featuring the original (pre-New Coke) 1985 design with “Enjoy Coke” and the Stranger Things logo, and a 16-oz. Coke Zero Sugar can with a limited-edition Stranger Things design. 

The “sip & scan” icons on the cans unlock chances to win a variety of Stranger Things experiences as part of the “Enjoy Coca-Cola” summer campaign.


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