November 17, 2016

Everything Old is New Again: Nostalgia Marketing

Mom jeans are back!

woman on basketball court in levi's tee and mom jeans
Photo by Roman Khripkov

Just when you think everything has been done, it comes full circle. The world is capitalizing on nostalgia marketing to draw in a new (and old) audience.


From constant sequels in Hollywood, to the McRib, to television remakes like Full House, people flock to entertainment, products, and advertising that remind them of the past.

This nostalgia marketing doesn’t just target those who experienced it the first time. Millennials are craving nostalgia marketing like toddlers crave confrontation. Here are some reasons why…


Nostalgia marketing makes us laugh.

I can’t think back to my parent’s 1970s Pinto with the scrolly painted name “Lil Bean” on the back without laughing until I cry.


Thinking about the past makes us happier.

And not in a “because-I-say-so” kind of way. Science says its Legit. “When people wax nostalgic, they become happier.” – Clay Routledge, PhD.

Nostalgia marketing evokes all kinds of emotions that translate to warm and fuzzies for your brand.

It makes us harken back (and yes, I’m old. I just wrote ‘harken’) to a time when things seemed simpler. Better. People always argue that “their” time, their coming-of-age, was

We all are prone to loving rose-colored glasses that allow us to look back.

Back then, we didn’t care about “preservatives”. Or “transparency”. Or “corporate responsibility”. (Are you making air quotes right now as you read these? You should.) And of course, I’m not saying awareness of those things isn’t important. I’m just saying sometimes we realize ignorance was bliss.  In this time of marketing OVERLOAD, we just want to escape into the fun to be found in memory.


The happiness in a bowl of cereal.


The laugh at an over-the-top commercial.

… And what a powerful way to resonate with your audience.


How can you tap into the nostalgia marketing trend?

Current events, holidays, and trends can all spur nostalgia marketing, because all are cyclical and we have shared experiences from those past events.

Make sure your nostalgia marketing is made up of authentic storytelling. (Read more about how to do that in another blog here). It has to be a fit for your brand.

If you’re Betty Crocker, share the top recipes from the 1970s. If you’re McDonald’s, avoid poor Ronald McDonald for now, due to those clowns (both figurative and literal) who are giving the good guys a bad name.


If you’re not convinced yet, here’s an even bigger “why”.

From Throwback Thursdays to Rickrolling, nostalgia marketing does something that new platforms are perpetually striving for: creating connections.

When people engage in nostalgia, they feel more connected to others. This shared history is the framework through which we see the world. Audience, unite!


Nostalgia marketing means more than just a mood boost.

It also increases self-esteem and perceptions of meaning in life.

Think about that. Revel in it. The meaning of life?  That’s as old as time. You don’t get much bigger than that. And if your brand can wrap its arms around that kind of deeply entrenched emotional pursuit shared by all of humanity, you’re GOLD my friend.

Have you seen a great example of nostalgia marketing lately? Or another example of amazing storytelling?  Post a comment or email me and I could feature it in an upcoming blog.