If you’re eagerly awaiting the July 4 debut of Stranger Things’ third season—dubbed Stranger Things 3—on Netflix, Shutterstock is hoping it can quench your thirst with a version of its own, made entirely from stock footage.
The stock-footage company’s new campaign, Strange Things, intended to parody the science-fiction horror aesthetic that’s made Stranger Things a pop-culture phenomenon and the recipient of dozens of awards nominations.
“Enjoy binge watching strange things?” the ad for Shutterstock reads as an ominous synth plays. “Well, you’re in luck. We have millions of strange things. Like 80’s things, shady things, upside down things—and even stranger things.”
Save for the iconic cast of the show, the video—made entirely from Shutterstock’s own assets—points to the breadth of the company’s stock-footage library.
The ad, released a week before Stranger Things 3 is slated to become available on Netflix, is the latest in a series of videos created for Shutterstock by the New York agency DiMassimo Goldstein. In January, just as two competing documentaries about the failed festival hit streaming service, the agency created a parody of the infamous Fyre Festival ad to promote Shutterstock’s library of tropical footage and music.
The agency also crafted an ad showing off its collection of thrones—or rather, chairs—in advance of the premiere of the final season of HBO’s Game of Thrones.
Tom Christmann, a partner and chief creative officer at DiMassimo Goldstein, said the agency keeps a calendar of tentpole events throughout the year and starts pulling appropriate stock footage two to four weeks out so the brand is well positioned to capitalize on the cultural conversation. About 80-90% of that pulled footage won’t get used for a project, but Christmann says it’s worth it to be prepared.
“It’s about showing people the speed and the agility that you can have when you have all of this content at your disposal to make something,” Christmann said. “It’s sort of a magic trick … of feeling like you’re part of the conversation that people are already having.”
Mark DiMassimo, founder and CEO of DiMassimo Goldstein, said that several brands the agency works with have expressed an interest in “culture hacking” to bring their brands to the forefront of cultural conversations.
“It’s trick you can do repeatedly, although it’s not easy,” DiMassimo said. “The execution makes all the difference. If these looked like cheap viral videos, they would not work. The shock of them is that they’re not the real thing.”
At the core of it, DiMassismo said, the team is “always amusing ourselves” with the ads. And it helps that Shutterstock has been particularly trusting about the agency’s instincts, he said.
Netflix has put out some ads promoting the third season of the program of its own, of course, including a fake ad for a mall set in the show’s setting of Hawkins, Ind., and a nostalgia-drenched spot set to The Who’s “Baba O’Riley.”