- Netflix ran a series of print ads for its hit show "Stranger Things" that come to life when scanned with Google Lens, the search giant’s image-recognition app. Readers who point their smartphones at the ads in the New York Times while using the app get to see an augmented reality (AR) tie-in with the series, per a blog post.
- At first glance, the neon-colored ads look out of place with their pictures of people with hairstyles last seen in the 1980s, when "Stranger Things" is set. The ads appear to promote the Starcourt Mall, a fictional shopping emporium that's featured in the show’s third season, but are there to show the power of Google Lens.
- The "Stranger Things" ad is Google's latest effort to demonstrate how its partners, such as museums, magazines and retailers, can use Google Lens to overlay digital information real-world objects. The search giant develops AR experiences with its ARCore technology, per its blog.
Google this year has made a stronger effort to promote the capabilities of Google Lens, and its promotional tie-in with Netflix’s "Stranger Things" with an AR print ad may help to introduce the technology to a new audience.
Google in May added new features to Google Lens, which uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify objects with a smartphone camera, such as visual language translation of signs, audio reading of text, video demonstrations of recipes seen in magazines and scanning restaurant menus to show the most popular dishes.
"Stranger Things" tie-ins are a creative way for companies like Google to benefit from the hype around the show's third season. Netflix said a company record of 40.7 million household accounts watched the show in its first four days, and 18.2 million accounts finished the entire third season.
About 75 brands have struck deals with Netflix for promotional tie-ins and merchandising with the show, The New York Times reported. Microsoft this month stirred social-media buzz with retro-themed product announcements that turned out to be part of a larger promotional tie-in with "Stranger Things." Coca-Cola resurrected New Coke as part of a tie-in with the show, Burger King debuted the "Upside Down Whopper" and Baskin-Robbins started selling ice cream flavors inspired by the show.
"Stranger Things" has been a marketing bonanza for brands that appeared in the show, although Netflix has said it didn’t facilitate any paid product placements. Still, research estimates the advertising value for products in the season as close to $15 million in the first three days of the show’s release on July 4, according to Concave Brand Tracking. The top 10 most visible brands were Coca-Cola, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Casio, 7-Eleven, Sharp, Adidas, Pentax, Reebok and Burger King, Concave estimated.