- The Chicago Cubs on June 24 ran a promotional tie-in with "Stranger Things," Netflix's buzzy sci-fi series whose third season premieres on July 4.
- Snapchat users who attended the baseball game yesterday at Wrigley Field could point their smartphones at the ballpark's marquee to activate an augmented reality (AR) experience, the team announced on Twitter. The AR filter displayed a demogorgon creature from the "Upside Down," the paranormal alternate universe that's a key part of the show, bursting through Wrigley Field's sign.
- Accompanying the Snapchat lens for the themed event was limited-edition merchandise, including giveaways of co-branded Cubs and "Stranger Things" fanny packs to fans who bought game tickets through a special website offer. The ballpark's Marquee Grill also featured a one-time "Eggo Waffle Chips" menu option that included bacon, vanilla, orange zest and habanero peppers. Cast members Cary Elwes and Dacre Montgomery threw out the first pitch at the game.
By creating an AR filter for Snapchat, the most popular social media app among U.S. teens, the Chicago Cubs can demonstrate that they're in touch with a younger cohort of sports fans that relies on smartphones for social interaction and media consumption. "Stranger Things," whose central characters consist of teens grappling with paranormal activity in a fictional Indiana town in the early 1980s, has been a breakout hit for Netflix by appealing to kids and their nostalgic parents.
AR and mobile-ready activations in stadiums have become popular ways to reignite fan interest and boost attendance amid lackluster viewership across professional sports leagues. The Erie BayHawks, an NBA G League team, this month signed a deal with tech firm Imagination Park Technologies to bring AR experiences to its arena in Pennsylvania. Budweiser and the Cleveland Cavaliers basketball team last year reintroduced an immersive mobile game that let fans shoot virtual hoops to win prizes during downtime at live games. Two years ago, Mastercard and the MLB provided fans with an in-stadium AR experience during the World Series.
The Chicago Cubs tie-in with "Stranger Things" is part of a broader marketing push by the MLB to appeal to sports fans and help cultivate the next generation of game-goers who have never known a world without smartphones and social media. Seventeen MLB teams are hosting "Stranger Things" events this season, which the league is promoting on social media. The Milwaukee Brewers kicked off the promotion with a similar "Stranger Things Day" on June 8 that offered exclusive T-shirts and hats. The Colorado Rockies will have the final "Stranger Things" event on August 30.
Meanwhile, merchandise tie-ins with "Stranger Things" are one way brands are building on the hype for the show's upcoming third season. About 75 brands have struck deals with Netflix for promotional tie-ins and merchandising with the hit show, The New York Times reported. Most notably, Coca-Cola will resurrect New Coke as part of a tie-in with the show. Burger King has teamed up with Netflix on the "Upside Down Whopper" while Baskin-Robbins plans to sell two ice cream flavors inspired by the show. Nike and H&M also designed apparel inspired by the show.