Nostalgia Casette

We’ve all experienced the moment when a song on the radio instantly transports you back to the exact place and time you first heard it. Or when the aroma of a food or perfume immediately brings to mind a particular memory from your past.

That feeling is nostalgia, and it’s an undeniably powerful psychological trigger. And if you’re paying attention, you can find it in marketing messages all around you.

BMW chose the nostalgia route for its ad in the 2015 Super Bowl, one of the single most visible marketing platforms in the world. National brands from The Chicago Cubs to Pepsi celebrated October 21, 2015 as Back to the Future day to mark the date when Marty McFly arrives to the “future” in the 1989 blockbuster. Buzzfeed has become one of the web’s most visited content sites due in part to its seemingly never-ending “Remember When” listicles. Throwback Thursday’s photos are a top trending social topic on a weekly basis. The list of nostalgia marketing in action could go on and on.

But why is nostalgia an effective marketing tool? According to this New York Times article, it’s actually a bittersweet feeling associated with longing for meaningful events in the past that involved people we’re close to like friends, family, and significant others. Its effects are inherently positive and emotional, ranging from enhanced moods and reduced stress to positive feelings about the future.

In short, reliving happy memories of the past can help you feel good about the future. If your company’s marketing can make people feel good, they will be more inclined to become brand loyalists and sing your praises to their own friends and families.

But how can you capitalize on the power of nostalgia without your marketing feeling outdated? Here are a few tips: 

1. Make what’s old new again using current platforms.

Even if your content celebrates the past, your delivery mechanisms shouldn’t. Customize your content for each platform, but feel free to forego that MySpace post.

2. Don’t force it.

Does your company have an important anniversary coming up? A re-release of a popular product or service? Look for natural opportunities to be nostalgic, but don’t push it if it’s not really there.

3. Keep current.

This may seem illogical, but one of the best ways to create nostalgia-centric marketing is to monitor what cultural conversations are grabbing headlines, and then use your content to draw comparisons or contradictions to similar events of the past. If, of course, it aligns with your greater brand messaging.

Could your marketing use a dose of nostalgia to help you achieve your goals? Contact us and let’s take a look together.

-Mike Killeen