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Throwback is the New Black: Brands Embrace Nostalgia in Marketing

‘Tis the season for nostalgia, but why stop at the holidays? Most people (especially Millennials) crave that reminiscing year-round; perhaps that’s why The Spice Girls are reuniting for a tour and why “Double Dare” came back to TV

Revolution Digital  |  December 6, 2018
Throwback is the New Black: Brands Embrace Nostalgia in Marketing

‘Tis the season for nostalgia, but why stop at the holidays? Most people (especially Millennials) crave that reminiscing year-round; perhaps that’s why The Spice Girls are reuniting for a tour and why “Double Dare” came back to TV. Marketers have finally caught on to the fact that nostalgia makes us feel good. In a world filled with stress, we would pay to relive the joys of simpler times— and we are—because the past is a commodity that’s always in demand.

From commercials to pop-up shops, brands are pitching the past in ways that command attention. Sure, shock tactics and glitz have both proven to draw consumer attention, but creating a sentimental bond has a deeper, more meaningful impact on memory, making nostalgia a powerful tool in any advertiser’s box of tricks. Here’s how some brands we love are hitting the ‘rewind’ button:

Elton John’s Nostalgic Holiday Ad Gives Us All the Feels

Before he was Rocketman, he was just a kid with a holiday wish. And in the new John Lewis department store commercial, Elton John takes us back through the stages in his life that led to his stardom, ending with the Christmas he received his very first piano. The retailer’s ad reignites the child in all of us, tugging at our heartstrings and, if they’re lucky, our purse strings.

Nobody Puts KFC in a Corner

And the Colonel does it again. To promote KFC’s new Chicken and Waffles, the fast food chain released a commercial that idolizes one of the ‘80s most iconic movies. To the tune of ‘(I’ve Had) the Time of My Life,’ Colonel Sanders and his sappy, new companion, Mrs. Butterworth, recreate the famous lift from “Dirty Dancing” in an attempt to target Millennials’ soft spot for the feel-good flick and era.

Waffle House Celebrates Change in Their Jukeboxes

…but that’s not the only throwback involving music and waffles. We grew up popping quarters into diner jukeboxes to hear our favorite songs while we ate, and now Waffle House is celebrating those hits. The southern eatery partnered with TouchTunes for the first-ever Tunie Awards to recognize songs and artists most played on Waffle House’s digital jukeboxes. A modern twist on a beloved classic.

New Balance Hosts a ‘90s-Themed Pop-Up

To help promote their new X-90 shoe (a chunky athletic sneaker reminiscent of those popular in the ‘90s), New Balance erected an immersive pop-up shop in L.A. designed to take consumers back in time. In partnership with Foot Locker and Nickelodeon, the experience included themed spaces like a Koosh ballpit, a Nickelodeon Double Dare photo booth and a throwback bedroom that Zack Morris would have been proud to call his own.

ColourPop Grants Our Disney Fairytale Wishes

Once upon a time, weekends were spent watching Disney movie marathons and pretending the living room carpet could fly. Now, cosmetics company ColourPop is giving us a pass to revisit those magical years with a Limited Edition ColourPop x Disney collaboration. Six princess lipsticks and dreamy palettes later, the collection lets childhood fantasies live on, reigniting a fondness for fairytales that’s certainly worth the price tag.

While nostalgic ads and campaigns have been known to target various age groups, helping consumers to relive various times from their upbringings, there lies a plethora of opportunity in the Millennial market. Having experienced the most change as a generation, Millennials are more likely to “hanker for the past – a phenomenon some have labeled ‘early onset nostalgia.’”

Having grown up with the internet, Millennials have always had direct access to an extensive range of information, experiences, and iconic moments in time— right at their fingertips, whenever they desire. Plus, new forms of media have been able to bring the past to life in exciting, new ways, a luxury that didn’t exist for older generations. This combination makes the Millennial market fertile ground for nostalgia marketing, and an ideal target for connecting purchase to the past.

At Revolution Digital, we can help you connect with your consumers in ways that leave a lasting impact. Research helps guide our strategy team in determining the most effective ways to reach a desired target and craft a campaign that speaks to them (nostalgia included). If you’re interested in learning more, we’d love to hear from you at newbusiness@rev-d.com.

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