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Volume 22 No. 39
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Closing Shot: Turning promotions ‘Upside Down’

The hit Netflix series “Stranger Things” has driven multiple events at major league ballparks this summer. The show’s alternate universe has even managed to make New Coke cool.
Polaroid was a perfect fit for the promotion around the 1980s-themed show, offering a photo booth for “Stranger Things” fans to pose as their favorite character. Waffle House (below) got into the act as well.
Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves
Polaroid was a perfect fit for the promotion around the 1980s-themed show, offering a photo booth for “Stranger Things” fans to pose as their favorite character. Waffle House (below) got into the act as well.
Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves
Polaroid was a perfect fit for the promotion around the 1980s-themed show, offering a photo booth for “Stranger Things” fans to pose as their favorite character. Waffle House (below) got into the act as well.
Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves

In the same summer in which Season 3 of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” attracted millions of viewers, the show also will take over 17 of the 30 MLB ballparks for a night.

Teams participating in a “Stranger Things” theme night have worked in lockstep with MLB and Netflix in promoting the supernatural drama at their ballparks to capitalize on the booming popularity of the pop culture phenomenon. 

Among them was the Atlanta Braves, who play in the same area in which the hit show is filmed. The Braves’ “Stranger Things” night was a game at SunTrust Park against the Phillies on July 3, the day before the release of Season 3.

Holding the promotion was a “no-brainer,” according to Brad Meriwether, the Braves’ director of marketing. “We have so many fans of the show internally that it wasn’t that difficult to come up with a bunch of different ideas,” he said.

The Braves sold ticket packages for the promotion, starting at $27, which included a Hawkins High School hat, highlighting the school featured in the show, with a Braves logo on the side. The team turned the Xfinity Rooftop beyond right field into The Upside Down, a “Stranger Things”-themed area based on the show’s alternate dimension. The area was open to any fan with a ticket.

Corporate sponsors bought in. For example, the stadium’s Upside Down featured a machine for New Coke, Coca-Cola’s disastrous reformulation that has been featured on the 1980s-themed show. Waffle House handed out free waffle samples, tied to what the character Eleven ate during Season 1. NetFlix helped bring in Polaroid for a throwback photo booth.

Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves
Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves
Photo: kevin d. liles / atlanta braves

The team sold more than 1,500 ticket packages and had more than 3,200 fans visit The Upside Down. The Braves believe the local connection to the show helped the promotion succeed. “There’s a level of authenticity that we had with our fans and residents of our market that maybe other teams weren’t able to tap into,” Meriwether said.

On deck for “Stranger Things” promotions are the Baltimore Orioles (Aug. 2), St. Louis Cardinals (Aug. 23) and Colorado Rockies (Aug. 30). The Orioles package costs $30 to $40 and includes a “Stranger Things” bobblehead; Cardinals tickets start at $22.90 and include a themed T-shirt; Rockies tickets start at $30 and also include a T-shirt.

“Baseball is a long season,” Meriwether said. “Even when the team is playing well, we know that our fans are interested in things that are maybe connected to the game of baseball, but [also] strike a nerve of something else that might be a passion point of theirs.”