- Netflix tapped Baskin-Robbins to help promote the upcoming season of “Stranger Things,” which premieres on Jul. 4, with exclusive ice-cream flavors, products, and experiences tied to the show.
- The streaming giant had the idea to involve the classic ice-cream brand, and reached out to a Baskin-Robbins exec through LinkedIn.
- “We started the conversation and realized it would be a much bigger brand play for both of us,” David Nagel, senior director of consumer engagement for Baskin-Robbins, told Business Insider.
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Netflix’s deal with Baskin-Robbins to spread the word about the return of “Stranger Things” on Jul. 4 started with a LinkedIn message.
Scoops Ahoy, a fictional ice-cream shop in the Starcourt Mall in Hawkins, Indiana, plays a big role in the upcoming, third season of the Netflix show. Local teen and Demodog battler Steve Harrington works at the ice-cream parlor. And, based on the latest trailer, it looks like a major battle will go down at the shopping center.
Netflix, which has partnered with a bevy of brands to promote the upcoming season of the blockbuster series, approached Baskin-Robbins about a licensing opportunity to promote the show last year, David Nagel, senior director of consumer engagement at Baskin-Robbins, told Business Insider.
Read more: Inside Netflix’s marketing strategy for ‘Stranger Things,’ the show that supercharged its work with brands like Lyft and Coca-Cola
The streaming giant didn’t have an existing relationship with Baskin-Robbins. A Netflix staffer reached out to Nagel via LinkedIn in April 2018.
“I thought I was getting punked from somebody inside the organization,” Nagel said. “That’s not the typical business approach, nor is it every day that you get reached out to by a major property like that.”
Nagel responded quickly and began talks with the consumer products group within Netflix that was handling licensing deals. The conversations started around the time that filming began on season three.
By that summer, Baskin-Robbins and Netflix had a working proposal that was broader than the Scoops Ahoy licensing deal that was originally discussed. Netflix’s partner marketing team, led by Barry Smyth, also got involved to help build out the partnership with a retail experience, commercials, and other efforts.
“We started the conversation and realized it would be a much bigger brand play for both of us,” Nagel said.
The promotion included three exclusive ice-cream flavors inspired by the show, sundaes and other products tied to the Upside Down, “Stranger Things” merchandise in stores, ads promoting the exclusive offerings, a Scoops Ahoy ice-cream truck, and a recreation of the Scoops Ahoy ice-cream shop at one of Baskin-Robbins’ Burbank, California locations, which will be open from Jul. 2-14.
Making the campaign
Baskin-Robbins spent nearly a year working on the promotion. Execs flew out to Los Angeles, with Netflix’s permission, and read the scripts for season three to understand how Scoops Ahoy was being incorporated into the show.
“There’s so much more richness to the work that’s coming because we were allowed that little peak under the hood,” Nagel said. “We’ve had to sign our lives away because of that, but hopefully because the work will pay off in the end and it’ll really showcase both brands.”
The team also spoke to Matt and Ross Duffer, who created “Stranger Things,” to bring the the tone of the show to life through the marketing and retail experience.
“They take such pains to ensure the integrity of the show,” Nagel said of the Duffers. “One of the things that we absolutely fell in love with as we were going through discussions with them and scripts for season three was the authenticity to the ’80s.”
The Duffers inspired Baskin-Robbins to go back through its own marketing from the decade to see how the brand was positioning itself back then, and learn the techniques and styles that advertisers used during the 1980s. An ad for Baskin-Robbins’ “Stranger Things”-themed Upside Down Sundae features the old, ’80s-era Baskin-Robbins logo, for instance.
Nagel said Baskin-Robbins spent a bit more than it usually does on marketing during the summer season to promote the show, but thought the investment was worth it. The show returns to Netflix over the summer, which is ice-cream season and Baskin-Robbins’ biggest season of the year.
“We did over invest in this property,” Nagel said. “We knew [the show’s return] was something that people were going to be really excited about, kind of like the lead up to ‘Game of Thrones.'”
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