Stranger things are happening on the TTC

A new advertising campaign is making Stranger Things fans on the TTC do a double take.

Some riders are taking notice of the posters on subway cars that are hidden advertisements, promoting the release of the second season of the Netflix original series. The posters are subtle and inconspicuous – a simple advertisement for Hawkins Power and Light with a photo and 1-888 number at the bottom.

Hawkins National Laboratory is the company in the first season of Stranger Things that conducts human experiments and is connected to the origin of the central protagonist, Eleven.

Connor Gagnon, a third-year architecture student, thinks he might have overlooked the posters during his commute.

“Even having watched the first season, I barely remember what half the names were to begin with,” he said. “I think posters like that wouldn’t really make a lot of sense until you had already seen the end of season two, or you just rewatched season one… I haven’t taken the subway yet but I probably would’ve missed it if I had.”

The complete second season of Stranger Things was released on Oct. 27. Since its debut, fans have been discussing the show on social media, which is where the ad campaign was brought to light.

Ryerson marketing professor Joanne McNeish explained what Netflix might be getting at with the campaign.

“There’s a lot of competition for our attention. What Netflix has done is made us curious and interested,” she said. “I think when you’re a brand like Netflix [using public curiosity in advertising] works tremendously well. It’s very consistent with how they’ve handled themselves from the beginning. Initially, they were the only one of its kind.”

Netflix started its video streaming service in 2007. A consumer report in June estimated that they have accumulated over 104 million North American subscribers.  

“For those of us who take public transit, there’s not a lot to do down there when you’re standing in the station. We’re all cut off from our phones, plus the fact that a lot of their target group would be on the subway,” McNeish said.

“In large cities it tends to be university students, college students and young professionals who are on the subway. And because on the TTC, there are lots of ads down there, the ones that draw our attention are the most effective.”

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