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5 Lessons From the “Stranger Things” Cease & Desist Letter

5 Lessons From the “Stranger Things” Cease & Desist Letter

If you’re in a leadership role it doesn’t take long before you have the not so fun job or confronting someone for some reason. For me, it took about 20 minutes and boy did I blow it. But the folks over in the Netflix legal department know how to do it right. A couple of months ago the media giant wrote a cease-and-desist letter to a popup bar in Chicago. The bar was using the “Stranger Things” name and was clearly using imagery and themes from the show.

Here’s how the letter read: (See the original letter here.)

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 guys 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 with you for this pop-up. You’re obviously creative types, so I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us to have a say in how our fans encounter the worlds we build.

We’re not going to go full Dr. Brenner on you, but 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. Let me know as soon as possible that you agree to these requests.

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.


So, what can church leaders learn from this?

  1. Speak Their Language

    • The writers of the letter found common ground in a mutual love for the show and used lingo and referenced the show throughout the letter.  
  2. Compliment & Affirm

    • They recognized the bar owner’s creativity and leveled the playing field by saying “I’m sure you can appreciate that it’s important to us…” That affirmed them as being legit business owners.
  3. Be Polite

    • Everyone is taught to say please and thank you and if this letter didn’t say please it would have had a totally different tone. It’s amazing how many fires you can put out or simply avoid by simply being polite.
  4. Leave The Door Open

    • They left the door open by asking them to ask permission if they wanted to do it again. They weren’t ugly about it. They didn’t say never do it again. They just asked for them to ask for permission next time.
  5. Keep It Short

    • The letter was less than 200 words long; short, sweet, and to the point. Our confrontations don’t have to be long and unbearable when we follow these simple guidelines.  

About The Author

Ryan Richey

Ryan is passionate about leveraging communication, technology, and design to reach a lost and broken world. He is freelance designer living in Texas with his wife Kristin and three kids.


  1. Ron land

    This is a great article!! Very poignant. Sadly, sometimes it’s necessary to go all “Dr Brenner” on them, but unless someone is already in the Demagorgan’s clutches, I prefer the “flies to honey ” approach. The trick for me sometimes is using the proper cultural references so as not to make a mess!! Thanks again for a great article!

    • Ryan Richey

      Thanks Ron!

  2. pAUL Newman

    Thanks Ryan for this timely article. I was dealing with a ‘tight rope’ issue with someone at church. I was just about to write a letter when I received an email from Sunday Magazine containing your article with your shared understanding of Cease and Desist. A few hours later a much different letter was written and shared guided by your article and Holy Spirit. I am grateful for the body of Christ and the generosity of sharing wisdom to those who can benefit by its application. Thanks again and I do appreciate servant leaders like yourself.

    • Ryan Richey

      I’m so glad that God was able to use me in helping you. I know that I could have used some help when I first started in ministry. I’d love to hear how it went?


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