Nostalgia marketing is all the rage and will continue to be a popular approach in the years to come – especially as the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic. Why? Nostalgia takes us back in time. It is familiar and secure, which enables it to meet a core psychological need for security.
While safety is of paramount importance right now in terms of physical health, we cannot overlook the importance of the comfort that people have in reliving positive memories in a world that is quite unstable. Nostalgia can be an incredibly useful way of communicating these emotions.
And brands are using it right now. Hotels across the country inject nostalgia into their marketing efforts by capitalizing on consumers’ desire to travel safely. They create campaigns that draw on the nostalgia of traveling 50 years ago, evoking the nostalgia of family outings and trips to the beach, mountains, or national parks. In a moment when the present feels uncertain, nostalgia for the past feels steady and steady.
Nostalgia with a purpose
Nostalgia can be a great tool for engaging in conversation among consumers. However, if not used properly, it can distract audiences from the real purpose of your marketing campaign.
For example, on Super Bowl Sunday the internet was full of posts about Bill Murray and “Groundhog Day,” but how many people actually considered buying a Jeep after seeing the ad? In fact, how many people noticed they saw a Jeep commercial?
When using nostalgia in a marketing campaign, a brand needs to keep its identity and messages central at all times. While this brand may have good intentions in including a movie character or a beloved band in its advertising, the message from the cameo can be overshadowed if the overall campaign isn’t tied to their product and messages.
Celebrities and pop culture references might grab attention, but they won’t necessarily sell products or raise brand awareness. If there is no clear association between the two, the alignment of the message is deactivated. And misaligned messages don’t stink of authenticity, which is at the heart of what every consumer is looking for.
A connection to the past
Nostalgic ads can evoke positive emotions by taking us back in time. A domino ad released earlier this year to promote the new GPS delivery tracker features the main character recreating the iconic dance scene from Risky Business. It’s fun, optimistic and unforgettable, but also connects the brand seamlessly with the nostalgic scene.
This is what nostalgic marketing should look like, especially as the US economy recovers from the Covid-19 crisis and consumers keep working to rebuild their lives. It will take time for consumers to regain confidence and purchasing power. Once they do, they’ll become interested in brands that evoke a sense of familiarity – not brands that hired celebrities to go viral.
After the coronavirus, it will be more important than ever for marketers to make a clear connection between their brand identity and the use of nostalgia. Whether it’s songs, movie references, or heartfelt storylines, companies should create ads that help consumers reconstruct positive memories and emotions – while also conveying exactly how their products or services meet consumer needs and can improve their lives.