September 05, 2018

Nostalgia Marketing: For People Who Don't Live Under a Rock

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Remember reading Harry Potter? Remember your first Nokia brick phone? Ever play Nintendo or Tamagotchi?

Nostalgia marketing has been described as the advertising equivalent of comfort food. And because of this, more and more creative agencies are encouraging their clients to connect to their audiences through the use of nostalgia. Social media loves it. #TBT or ‘throw back Thursday’ is consistently one of the most trending hashtags on Instagram, for brands and celebrities and fans alike. More than 228 million photos online have been tagged #tbt. That’s a lot of crowd-pleasing photos from days gone by that friends, fans and consumers are indulging in.

Throwing back to their retro roots resonates hard. Things they once watched, they used to eat, they were obsessed with, and things they loved. The things they used to wear that have somehow come back into fashion. Remembering old pop culture quirks and how things used to be brings up an array of fond memories of ‘the good old days’ and latches straight onto people’s heartstrings.

It’s emotional but it’s also social, with people bonding over their old passions and old memories through social media. Tagging friends in a #tbt post or reading other people’s reminiscent comments on Facebook emphasise that connection that nostalgia creates, bringing together a community of similar consumers.  

New and fresh brands can optimise nostalgia marketing as a form of digital branding by establishing a connection with their target audience. Nostalgia is a fantastic way to draw in new consumers attention to a brand and specify who you want to be looking at it, positioning your brand differently to its competitors. Spotify is a relatively new brand that has seen exponential growth as an online music streaming platform, and it entices it’s users with many nostalgic playlist options like ‘Back to the 90’s’ and ‘2000’s Throwback Thursday’. Spotify reveals that soundtracks from 30 year old movies get played daily. A recent Spotify ad even has someone exclaiming, “I can’t believe people stopped listening to this song!”. They recognised early on that their listeners had a strong interest in listening to old time classics that pulled their heartstrings with nostalgia, to share with family and friends, and clearly nostalgia marketing works for them.

Buzzfeed is another brand that these days are essentially centred on nostalgic content. Its focus on pop cultured articles is highly targeted at millennials, who are after all the biggest suckers for nostalgia. So relating current news stories and celebrity gossip to things that people remember from a few years back really goes a long way for them. Even if the clickbait or story itself is relatively new, it nearly always includes a ‘throwback’ reference or a mention of the good old days to really resonate with their specified audience who all mutually understand and feel nostalgic about recognising the reference.

Established brands like Volkswagen have also utilised nostalgia marketing, particularly in their campaign ‘The Last Wish of the Volkswagen Kombi”. The ad and campaign heavily draw off the personal memories and association’s people have with their Kombi, right through its time of invention in the 1940’s. It features black and white video footage, elderly people reminiscing on the days of their youth travelling in a Kombi, and creates a feeling of love, memories and happiness surrounding the Kombi van as a personified product. It delves into all the reflective news stories saying ‘goodbye’ to the much-loved family vehicle, showcasing the memories people have like a eulogy for the life the Kombi has lived. People loved their Kombi, whether it is now or thirty years ago, and people love having that warm and fuzzy nostalgic feeling associated with their memories and consequently the brand Volkswagen.

The world is constantly changing and brands have to keep up. What people love one day is suddenly old and daggy the next (cough cough Pokemon Go lovers). As Sandor Pichai says, “In the technology world, everything changes at a very fast pace. A lot of what we do is to figure out what the next wave is”. But in this instance going backwards IS moving forward. Creating that link between a brand and people’s personal memories creates a strong bond and positive brand association and brand messaging.

And the strength of this emotion is what we work with at Fearless. 


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