"Stranger Things" happened for Eggo.
Kellogg's frozen waffle just found itself as a starring brand in Netflix's hit show when it premiered last year. Now, it's been featured in the show's popular commercial from Super Bowl LI.
It's a relationship that Kellogg said is totally unpaid, even if it is growing in scope.
On Sunday, the show ran a twisted trailer during the game that started out as if it were the throwback "Leggo My Eggo" commercial from the 1980s before being interrupted by the real promo for "Stranger Things."
A paying Super Bowl brand might take offense to having an ad cut so abruptly short, but in this case of free ad product placement, there couldn't be hard feelings.
"Sorry about the glitch during your big game ad," Stranger Things tweeted at Eggo on Sunday night. "We have the Hawkins A/V Club looking into it."
The A/V reference was to the show's geeky middle-school cast.
Later Eggo would tweet: "They totally interrupted our ad, but it was worth it."
It was all part of the real-time Super Bowl banter that has become an integral part of brands' marketing plans. Kellogg knew the ad was coming, and was prepared for it, reacting to the mention on social media.
Kellogg said it had nothing to do with its role in the show. However, once it saw the product integration, the brand and its agency, VML, wanted to get more involved, according to an advertising executive familiar with the marketing.
"It was a surprise, then all of a sudden they pushed to get that connected tissue there," the ad exec said, speaking on condition of anonymity. "Eggo is going to have ties moving forward with 'Stranger Things,' and they're working on some big things."
The show returns around Halloween, and Eggo remains a part of the storyline, the ad exec said.
"Eggo's presence in Stranger Things was a happy surprise for the brand and it was clear that fans loved it as much as we did," said Trinh Le, Eggo marketing director, in an e-mailed statement. "So, we couldn't resist partnering with Netflix in their Super Bowl ad. The partnership is promotional only. All product featured in the show is organic."
The producer of the show 21 Laps Entertainment did not respond to a request for comment.
It's the kind of organic placement any brand would covet. "Stranger Things" is a critically acclaimed, award-winning show, and one of Netflix's most popular ever.
The "Stranger Things" Super Bowl commercial was among the top 10 of the night, according to YouTube Ad Blitz's early numbers. The spot had 4.1 million YouTube views as of Monday afternoon.
"It's smart. Brands need that cultural currency," said Azher Ahmed, evp director of digital at DDB Chicago. "People hate commercials, but if you get them to think back to childhood, where that stuff's intrinsic. And to be able to weave it into a show that's so popular as a natural thing. It was smart of Eggo to hop on that."