What do you think is the most popular wearable on the market right now? If you guessed some sort of high tech fitness tracking, you would be…. wrong! The most popular wearable lately is the decidedly low-tech sweatshirt worn by Dustin, one of the nerdy middle-school students on the Netflix blockbuster series, “Stranger Things.”
With an average viewership of more than 8.8 million people per episode for season two, Dustin wore a vintage Science Museum of Minnesota hoodie (featuring a drawing of a brontosaurus skeleton). It sent the Internet rocking and social media went crazy. The Science Museum was deluged with requests from fans to buy the hoodie. The only problem was that it no longer existed. The vintage art work used on the shirt was from the 1980s and found online by the show’s costume designer.
The Museum quickly commissioned new apparel to match the show and started selling it online and in the Museum’s store on Nov. 7th. What happened next was amazing. The website traffic was so heavy that it crashed the server! And, when it was operating, fans faced a checkout wait time of 20 minutes. In addition, hundreds of fans waited in line on a cold Minnesota November day. By the end of the day, the shirts had all sold out, totaling $400,000 in sales for the Museum in support of its mission to “inspire learning, inform policy and improve lives.” (Don’t worry – more are being reordered.)
Product placement works (even it’s for an old product)!
Group Activities and Discussion Questions:
- Discuss product placement and its role in promotion.
- Poll students: Who has watched, or heard of, “Stranger Things”?
- Consider showing a trailer for students who are not familiar with the series: https://youtu.be/vgS2L7WPIO4
- Show the Science Museum of Minnesota’s Web site: https://www.smm.org/strangerthings
- Poll students: What product placements can they recall seeing in the past month in TV shows or movies?
- What makes an effective product placement?
- Divide students into teams. Have each team select a popular show that they have watched. What products or services would be a good fit? Why?
Source: Harlow, T. (2017, Nov. 7). Sales of ‘Stranger Things’ hoodie overwhelms Science Museum of Minnesota website. Minneapolis Star Tribune.