Nostalgia Marketing

Was prompted to write a post on Nostalgia Marketing after seeing RetroToGo‘s recent article on Fairy’s return to the old white bottle  to celebrate 50 years of squeaky clean plates and soft hands.

It really got me thinking about how many brands have revisited old packaging, adverts and slogans in the last couple of years. I have picked out a few, including my favourite of the bunch – Virgin Atlantic – below but feel free to add in any I have not included.

One I have left out is the Cadburys work (Gorilla/Airport/Wispa) in the last 2 years, which I happen to think was superb first time out but as soon as they re-edited the footage with a new soundtrack it just smacked of pure laziness and lost it’s edge.

What does it all mean for advertising creatives though? Have they dried up? Are they lazy? Are they merely following a trend? More importantly, does it work? Let me know your thoughts.


Fairy Retro Poster

Fairy 50th Anniversary advertising

Virgin Atlantic

I simply adore this advert and this was a truly groundbreaking advert for me. Still makes me smile every time I see it.


M & S

And finally, the TV advert promoting guess what, TV advertising!


5 thoughts on “Nostalgia Marketing

  1. I think it may be a lot of the above. Advertising does follow trends as it wants to sell you things ‘now’, and trends are always what is popular ‘now’.

    I think the reason for so much nostalgia right now is that we aren’t where we would like to be right now. After all the advances of the last century, we all kind-of ‘dried up’, and the future didn’t deliver at the expected rate (or at most it became more virtual and intangible). We’re looking back to when things last made a difference; perhaps hoping to try again, perhaps looking for inspiration, or maybe we do just appreciate a fond memory in these glum, stagnant times.

    With every snowballing event there comes a time of collapse, and in the advertising world, these campaigns are a wry smile that they’ve run all round the track to find the product is essentially the same. They’re taking a breather to see if they need to run the same race again, or if someone will give them something else to do.

    Maybe… I like them anyway 🙂

    • Thanks for the comments Craig, I think the creatives are trying to get that feel-good factor back by tapping into happier times in people’s lives. Taking the Virgin Atlantic advert for example, all the imagery and even the soundtrack reminds you of your youth – Our Price, Madonna, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, massive mobiles (yuppie jokes), even the Bender in a Bun from Wimpy!

      It all stimulates your brain and associates the brand with good memories and overall happiness.

      For me, the Virgin advert is the best of the bunch, one that isn’t lazy or harking back to old branding or old straplines, just transporting you back in time and recalling what an impact Virgin made when they launched. And of course, getting a good dig in at the stuffy BA crew!

      Done well, nostalgia sells but beware the lazy executives who simply re-hash an old advert or brand.

      • The Virgin ad really is excellent! Quite likely on two levels. As you say, it appeals to us for the fond memories of the 80’s (of which there is a bit of a current revival in general), but is particularly effective because there are the underlying references to the 60’s revival that was happening back then – the golden era of air travel, etc – and this engages the older generations as an added bonus… the people who weren’t young in the 80’s and perhaps don’t recall them as rosie as we do.

        Most, if not all, advertising operates on ‘feel-good’, whether it is memory of a past experience or promise of a future one. What got me interested in your post was the idea of why the nostalgia angle is chosen and effective at this point in time. Due to the scenarios suggested previously, I feel we currently hold less belief in the ‘future promise’ model.

        With so much collapsing and being undermined, it is timely to remind us that they have been around a while and continue to be strong / dependable. Psychologically, most people will want to hibernate through the recession (a mammalian instinct perhaps). We’re not venturing out for firewood or looking for sunnier climes, but dragging out our favourite old blanket and snuggling up 🙂

  2. Thought I would put this in a separate comment as it is more a story than speculation on my part.

    I think the Virgin ad works for me as it validates an earlier decision. I flew long haul with Air France a few years ago: while I enjoyed the chic stewardesses, the hospitality and the smooth piloting while on the plane, the ground services left much to be desired. After that, I vowed that in future, I would pay the extra to fly with Virgin if available. While the innovation and success of the company made me feel confident of a modern, professional service, THAT ad confirmed that I wouldn’t miss out on what was positive with the other carrier.

    I have yet to fly far away again, but that is the entirely honest thinking process that I experience in this situation. I love branding.

  3. Pingback: Virgin Atlantic do it again « A hat for all occasions

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