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Nostalgia Marketing


A Thing of the Past Right Now

Cian Duffy
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Predicting the future isn’t something that comes easily to anyone unless you have a 5G crystal ball. When you don’t know which way to move forward with your marketing efforts, what can you do? You can look back!

There are multiple studies that suggest consumers are more likely to spend money on products that invoke memories or nostalgic feelings. It might not come as a surprise that if you see a product that reminds you of a certain time or place you’ll feel attached, and you’ll want it more. But in 2021, getting people to buy our products and services is too “big picture.” We’re focused on getting them to buy into our brands, by getting acquainted (or re-acquainted) and building relationships.

Nostalgia uses cultural influence to unify people in still socially distanced times. It bolsters a sense of belonging. The feeling of nostalgia is both a communal and personal emotion, which means when used, it provides a connection to self and connection to the people (or brands) who get it. Using nostalgic themes in your marketing campaigns can elicit positive and trusting feelings toward the subject as well as create a feeling of openness and a desire to share with others.

We know consumers under 40 value trust, responsibility and personality out of their brands. Nostalgia promotes all of these principles. The emotional effect it has on consumers develops trust. The way nostalgia correlates with vintage items and second-hand sustainability suggests a level of responsibility and making things last.

Nostalgic themes don’t have to be as pointed as this ’80s inspired Gucci ad or require the use of a specific pop-culture reference like this Uber Eats ad. Because nostalgia can stem from so many things, subtle themes can work just as well. Nostalgia can come out through fonts, colors, music and photo filters even. High production and leaning all the way in isn’t essential to produce these wistful feelings.

Consider using nostalgia in a digital or social media campaign. When you only have moments to leave lasting impressions across multiple platforms, nostalgia can provide that positive and trusting vibe without the use of words or a storyline to explain itself. This tied with it being a powerful tactic for the under 40’s, makes it kind of perfect for digital.

We already told you this year, we’re going back to marketing with empathy, and there isn’t a much more secure way to understand your audience than by tapping into their fondest most comforting memories. So try having fun walking down memory lane, and creating a campaign that shows your customers you’re a brand that gets it.

Because we all love nostalgia ads, here are some of our office favorites, in no particular order:

Gucci GuiltyThe Gucci Guilty campaign was created to showcase the feeling of personal freedom and liberation these themes go hand in hand with quintessential American life and simple themes of the ‘50s and ‘60s.
Australia TourismCrocodile Dundee is an Australian treasure and a beloved movie franchise. The character is so iconic that he’s synonymous with the continent itself. So it was almost too clever to create a trailer for a third Dundee movie (with current Australia billboard Chris Hemsworth and the hilarious Danny McBride as the titular offspring of the icon) that turns out to be a tourism ad.
Werther’s OriginalKris, our esteemed Creative Director, is a sucker for Werther’s and touts this 80s ad as one of the best examples of nostalgia commercials. It’s certainly wholesome and unironically genuine—they just don’t make them like this anymore.
MicrosoftIf you ever need a recap of what we liked in the 90s, this ad will give you the grand tour in 100 seconds. While we wouldn’t encourage anyone to imply that one generation is better than the other, this ad was a fun trip down memory lane, even if it inadvertently reminded us of how lame Internet Explorer would become post-Y2K.

And for the very best showcase in nostalgia marketing through the Hollywood lens, relive and enjoy this iconic scene in Mad Men—the Carousel Pitch. It remains one of the best examples of how to dig deep into nostalgia, to uncover what moved us, thrilled us, made us laugh or cry, and how it makes us long for simpler times.