Can transporting your audience back to another time boost your sales?

Nostalgia Marketing

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Have you been feeling nostalgic lately? Living in a digital world, coupled with being locked up inside for long periods and covering our faces with masks has had many longing for another time - the good old days as they say. Maybe it’s the news that the final episode of Australian soap, Neighbours, is set to hit the screen for the last time this month? The resurgence in 70s and 90s fashion? CorningWare sets being sold for $15,000? Whatever’s causing it, it’s there. 

Brands are well aware of the way you’re feeling and they’re starting to take advantage in a creative way. Feeling or caring about something makes consumers more likely to act. Aligning marketing strategy with emotion is a common practice, but what happens when we go that one step further and tap into the fond memories of consumers? 

Nostalgia marketing taps into the positive and familiar concepts from the past that are relevant to our target audience in an effort to build trust for new ideas or to renew the life of a modern campaign. Hubspot coined nostalgia marketing the ‘advertising equivalent of comfort food’, transporting us ‘back to a simpler place where our current problems don’t matter’. 

As the longest-running drama series in Australian Television history, spanning 37 years and close to 9,000 episodes, Neighbours is coming to an end. For those like myself who grew up with the people of Erinsborough (or who were even named after actors who featured on the show - did somebody say Nicola Charles?), devoting half an hour every evening to watching them navigate their fictional, yet relatable lives, the characters of neighbours matter to us. 

Now to celebrate (commemorate?) the end of the road for Neighbours, the show is bringing back a number of characters fans grew to love over the years to attract audiences back to the screens through nostalgia. None other than THE couple of neighbours (sorry Karl and Susan), Scott and Charlene are making their return with Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue returning to the set for the series finale, joined by their friend Mike Young (Guy Pearce) who is set to be reacquainted with his young love Jane Harris (Annie Jones) who made a return to the regular cast in 2018. 

But we’re not just seeing nostalgia used as a tactic to mark the end of something. While the failure to include nostalgia in the marketing of Holden led to the demise of the legacy car brand, current brands are using it to fuel their marketing campaigns, particularly after this tactic has proven valuable in targeting Millennial audiences specifically. 

Adobe turned to nostalgia marketing in recent years, paying homage to beloved 80s painting guru, Bob Ross after his resurgence in popularity following the addition of his show, The Joy of Painting, to Netflix. Apple have recently released their new AirPods with Spatial Audio ad featuring Harry Styles drawing similarities to the iconic iPod silhouette advertisements from the mid-2000s. And who could miss the nostalgia fuelled ads from Menulog featuring Snoop Dogg throwing us back to the 90s and early 00s? Even Ampol, formerly Caltex, formerly Ampol, has revived their retro brand and taken back ownership of the great Australian road trip in a post-lockdown world. 

A nostalgia campaign has the potential to be largely successful for brands looking to try something new (but old?). The key challenge is to avoid making it feel like your brand is out of touch. 

What matters to your target audience? Uncovering their fond memories, ideally related to your brand, product or service, or closely aligned with it, and what they truly care about is the first step to setting up a nostalgia campaign. Making sure the details are right, and I mean RIGHT, is key. Everything needs to match the aesthetic - think fonts, colours, patterns, interiors, outfits, cars, technology (or lack thereof). 

The goal is to transport your audience back to another time they hold dear to them. Tell the story of our brand’s history and how it fits within the nostalgia you are creating. Is now the time to craft your nostalgia marketing campaign?