Google and Netflix teamed up to put a brilliant ‘Stranger Things’ AR ad in the NYT

Chris Smith

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Stranger Things is the hottest Netflix show of the season, and plenty of other companies are trying to take advantage of the horror/sci-fi retro adventure. We saw Microsoft and Coca Cola do it, and Google is no different. The company has a great Stranger Things Easter egg for you, but you have to buy The New York Times.

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That’s right, you’ll need an actual newspaper for this Google trick, as it involves some neat augmented reality (AR) trickery via Google Lens. The Thursday print edition of the paper has three ads for Stranger Things, 9to5Google reports, including one for the Starcourt Mall that’s at the center of the story. Google has a blog post on the matter:

Demogorgons. Mindflayers. Shadowy government agencies. Things aren’t always what they seem in Hawkins, Indiana, and Season 3 of Netflix’s “Stranger Things” is no different. It’s 1985, and the newly-opened Starcourt Mall is center stage. But for those adventurous enough to look beneath the surface, they’re bound to find a lot more than they bargained for.

What’s interesting is that there’s a Lens logo at the bottom of the ads with an invitation to “Unlock something strange.” That’s where your phone comes in, as you’ll have to bring up Google Lens on your Android or iPhone and point the camera to the newspaper. The app will recognize the ad and launch an AR experience for it. That includes special commercials for each of the three Stranger Things printed ads. Here’s how it looks:

Yes, that’s a strange thing to see in today’s paper, and a strange partnership to get it all done, considering the various parties that had to collaborate on this one.

As for Stranger Things 3, it’s currently available on Netflix for your bingeing pleasure.

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