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Inside Doritos and Netflix’s ‘Live from the Upside Down’

June 14, 2023 | 6 min read

The campaign won in the Partnership/Collaboration and the Content categories at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023.


Credit: Observatory

Doritos and Netflix, along with Observatory & Slap Global, collaborated to launch a spooky and nostalgic concert featuring iconic 80s artists, as well as contemporary superstar Charli XCX.

The Brief

For Doritos, the challenge was finding interesting new ways to stay relevant in pop culture. For Netflix, the challenge was getting fans excited for the fourth season of Stranger Things. Both Doritos and Netflix targeted a younger generation hungry for new things, even if that meant igniting a new sense of nostalgia for the 80s.

By partnering with Netflix‘s Stranger Things, Doritos demonstrated the power of bringing audiences back in time to move the brand forward. Doritos has deep ties with the 80s and Stranger Things is an ode to that era. The partnership needed to excite people today while being true to their shared heritage.

The Idea

Doritos partnered with Stranger Things to put on the greatest concert that never happened: ‘Live from the Upside Down‘. By turning a Doritos bag into the ticket for a 1986 music festival in the Upside Down, Doritos drove sales, increased market share and contributed to the most significant Stranger Things season ever.

Designed to transport the audience into Stranger Things through a unique and authentic Upside Down environment, Observatory created a set and filmed iconic 80s artists, then applied the Stranger Things special effects to appear as if the bands were playing live from the Upside Down.

It wanted to market Doritos Music Fest 86 as a concert with a throughline that consumers could follow – from the mythology of Doritos Music Fest 86 to artist promos, line-up posters, merch and digital integrations. Packaging was central to participation. It used Doritos bags as tickets, emblazoning them with an instructional CTA: ‘Scan a bag. Open the portal. Enjoy the show.‘

The 30-minute concert featured the 80s hits We Got the Beat and Our Lips are Sealed from The Go-Go‘s, Corey Hart‘s Sunglasses at Night and Never Surrender and Soft Cell performing Tainted Love as a surprise duet with contemporary pop star Charli XCX.

As a first-of-its-kind virtual concert, the production played a vital role. It was ominous, moody and covered in vines and spores. There are Easter eggs from the show all over the set: BMX Bikes lying in the mud, a broken chain-link fence with a Hawkins National Laboratory sign, a phone booth, a Dig Dug arcade cabinet, half-buried TVs, Walkie-Talkies, and more. The TVs play a loop of VHS static in which there are sporadically clips and moments from Stranger Things Season 4, as well as real Doritos ads from the 80s.

The Results

The Doritos and Stranger Things partnership heightened the benchmark of what two iconic brands can accomplish together. Integrating the Doritos bag into the experience, Observatory turned engagement into sales and sales into engagement. It created an unreplicable experience through worldbuilding, as well as through harnessing the power of heritage and music.

The partnership generated demand:

  • +11% Doritos sales lift

  • +10% Doritos 3D sales lift

It also got fans fired up:

  • 303.4m views across owned media

  • 365,000+ scans of the concert invite (that’s roughly 18-times the capacity of Madison Square Garden, one of the largest concert venues in the US)

The press picked up the partnership:

  • 4.46bn impressions

  • 582 earned placements

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The partnership helped Doritos capture a +1-point lift in market share, representing an annualized value of $45m.

This campaign won at The Drum Awards for Marketing Americas 2023. Find out more about The Drum’s Global Awards program or head to our case studies hub to read more award-winning stories.

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