The year was 1985. Ronald Reagan was president, Live Aid took place, and New Coke was released by the Coca-Cola Company to spectacular failure. The year is also the setting of Netflix’s Stranger Things 3, and Coca-Cola is celebrating the premiere by bringing back New Coke for a millennial audience. And this time around, in 2019, New Coke is a smash hit.
Stranger Things partnered with Coke to release the throwback soda as a promotional collaboration. The canned soft drink is being sold online in a limited-edition run, with a very retro 8-bit website to match. New Coke can also be found at vending machines in a few American cities, like Los Angeles and New York. Coca-Cola is also using New Coke’s original packaging from 1985, with the infamous “New!” banner splashed diagonally across the can.
Let’s quickly recap the New Coke story. New Coke was a new formula, responding to the public’s taste for Pepsi, which was perceived as sweeter by soda drinkers. As Coke was losing market share, they attempted to compete with a new, sweeter version of Coca-Cola. The backlash against New Coke was swift, and in less than six months, Coca-Cola changed the formula back to its original, iconic formula. It’s considered one of the biggest blunders in marketing history.
When the collab dropped online, the site crashed from an influx of traffic. Apparently, folks really wanted their New Coke fix, and Twitter users complained about the difficulty in placing their order. Coke apologized for the website crash — a stunning irony given the hostile public reaction to the product in 1985. . Now, 34 years later, New Coke is finding immense popularity among folks who likely weren’t even born when it was initially released.