Netflix channels ‘Stranger Things’ kids in a legal warning

It sent a cease-and-desist letter to proprietors of a pop-up bar themed to the popular series. Shunning jargon, the admonition’s authors went the playful route while getting the point across.

You can’t always summon the Demogorgon.

Still, PR pros can learn a thing or two from Netflix’s lawyers.

Attorneys for the streaming service provided a lesson in authentic communications through an unlikely vessel—a cease-and-desist letter to Emporium Arcade Bar, which had launched an unauthorized “Stranger Things”-themed pop-up bar.

The note abandoned legal jargon for the voice of the ’80s tweens from the popular show:

My walkie talkie is busted so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the upside-down, I don’t think we did a deal for this pop-up.

The note stayed in the voice of the show’s characters and made just two requests:

We ask that you please (1) not extend the pop-up beyond its 6 week run ending in September, and (2) reach out to us for permission if you plan to do something like this again.

Netflix’s attorneys concluded with a mild threat:

We love our fans more than anything, but you should know that the Demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.

Perhaps Netflix didn’t want to be spoilsports; more likely, it wanted to tread lightly before its second season premieres Oct. 27. The lighthearted note helped protect its brand from unauthorized use, doing so in a way that potential copycats might see—and heed.

The Upside Down pop-up bar opened Aug. 18 and operates as part of the larger establishment, Emporium Arcade Bar. Emporium’s website describes the pop-up as:

The end of Summer 80’s dance party of your dreams, filled with curious Things inspired by & paying homage to the instant-classic television show.

The pop-up features six themed cocktails, including one maple-syrup-flavored drink called “Eleven’s Eggos,” referencing one character’s love of frozen waffles. The pop-up includes a recreation of the living-room scene from the movie, furniture on the ceiling, murals and in general, and a heavy dose of nostalgia for former ’80s kids.

Here are three things PR pros can learn from the tongue-in-cheek legal letter:

1. Speak your audience’s language: Rather than alienate the “Stranger Things” super fans who presumably frequent the pop-up bar, Netflix wrote the letter as the super fans themselves might do. Great PR pros must also get in their audience’s head, ditching jargon for an authentic voice that says, “We’ve got your back.”

2. Creativity counts: Legal documents are often ignored, but the radical departure from legalese made it a compelling and surprising read. Apply this lesson to a blog post, news release or social media update to turn an otherwise boring topic into shareable content.

3. Authenticity wins the day: Regardless of whether the lawyers are true fans of “Stranger Things,” the letter oozed with love for the show. Communicating genuine passion for a client’s product or service makes PR pros sound human and builds trust with stakeholders.

PR Daily readers, how might you employ this tactic in protecting your brand?

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Topics: PR

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