The saga of New Coke is one of the stranger ones in the history of American branding.
During the “Cola Wars” of the mid-1980s, Coca-Cola was beginning to lose market share, so the company made a radical move: They changed the formula of their signature beverage, which was touted in commercials as “New Coke.”
The move, which took place in 1985, was so poorly received that the company reversed the decision within months, bringing back the original formula under the name “Coca-Cola Classic.” Customers welcomed the return of the old Coke, which came back at a time when there weren’t numerous varieties of the soft drink available.
Now, improbably, New Coke is coming back as part of a special promotion in conjunction with the upcoming third season of the popular, 1980s-set Netflix series Stranger Things.
Coke’s official Twitter account on Tuesday tweeted a video of clips from the show, including characters drinking New Coke, set to the original jingle from that era.
Per CNN, New Coke will be returning in limited quantities in special New Coke cans timed to the return of the series on Netflix July 4. There will be 500,000 of the cans, which can be purchased three ways: As a special gift when they make online purchases of Stranger Things Coke and Coke Zero Sugar glass bottles, through special vending machines being set up in cities this summer, and as a giveaway at the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta.
In addition, New Coke cans will appear in various episodes of the new season of the show.
The promotion was the idea of the show’s creators, Ross and Matt Duffers, as the new season is set in 1985, the same year New Coke arrived.
In order to revive New Coke, the company had to “dig through its vault to recover the recipe,” the CNN report said.
The Duffer brothers wrote New Coke into the coming season of "Stranger Things." With memories of the 1985 backlash having faded, Coca-Cola dug out the old recipe. https://t.co/249T6LNmx4
— The New York Times (@nytimes) May 21, 2019
Stranger Things, which debuted in the summer of 2016, is a teen horror/drama series which exists as constant homage, both thematically and digitally, to the cinema of the 1980s.
The show’s major influences are the work of Steven Spielberg and John Carpenter as well as John Hughes. Winona Ryder and David Harbour are the main adult stars of the series, while the younger actors include Millie Bobby Brown, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, and Charlie Heaton.
— Coca-Cola (@CocaCola) May 21, 2019
Stranger Things has been nominated for numerous awards and won an Emmy for Outstanding Casting for a Drama Series after its first season. Its two seasons also won MTV Movie and TV Awards for Show of the Year in 2017 and Best Show in 2018.