Generally, we feel most nostalgic over events in the past that had personal meaning to us, rather than the everyday doldrums we experience in a repetitive fashion. Family celebrations captured in photographs discovered years later in the bottom of a box instantly takes your mind back to the fun and laughter; when you hear “your song” played on the radio, you are reminded of the first kiss with your partner; the smell of your Nan’s freshly baked apple crumble conjures up childhood memories of sticky fingers and backyard games.
We can also get nostalgic over movies, gadgets, cartoons, toys, television shows and other pop culture icons that had an impact on our youth, teenage years and into our adulthood.
The social media platforms we use today have given us an unending source of nostalgia, particularly with the ability to see what we were posting at any given time in the past by scrolling down our Facebook wall and the “5 years ago today” feature; and applying a particular hashtag to photo or video uploads from bygone years such as “Throwback Thursday” (#TBT).
Essentially, nostalgia is feeling sentimental about a period in the past. It can be an affectionate wistfulness or sad longing; but whatever the particular memory evoked, it causes us to experience emotion. Research shows nostalgia can deliver powerful psychological benefits, such as higher self-esteem, feeling less stressed, enhanced mood, being optimistic about the future, and feeling connected with others.
It is little wonder, then, that content marketers have found that evoking a feeling of nostalgia is a way to win the hearts and minds of prospective followers. Recalling happy memories from the past can help to make you feel better in the present. Making consumers feel good about themselves when consuming your content can cause them to feel good about your brand by association. People gravitate towards things that make them feel positive and happy. Therefore, you can develop a following and facilitate ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ if you keep the positive vibes from nostalgic content flowing.
From music and imagery to celebrity endorsements and branding, various companies have been using the past to elicit an emotional response in their marketing efforts.
To celebrate 100 years of the iconic contour bottle, Coca-Cola re-released some ads from decades gone by, including the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s, which perfectly illustrate how they have remained strong with their marketing themes.
As another throwback to yesteryear, Coca-Cola also re-ran a vintage television ad from 1979 featuring “Mean Joe” Greene. Although not originally a Super Bowl commercial, it gained fame when it went to air during the 1980 match, and is arguably the most famous commercial Coca-Cola have produced for the highly sought-after Super Bowl advertising slots.
These walks down memory lane allow people to share and discuss with friends and family whether they remember the ads, what did the soft drink taste like in years past, was life really like that and was Joe Greene really that mean?
The “Legend” campaign from 2013 featured a sentimental selection of images and music, from Frank Sinatra to Joey Ramone, designed to celebrate Jack Daniel’s place in rock and roll history. With a tagline that is quite fitting, ‘With the band since 1866’, Jack Daniels has been in the studios,
travelled on the tour bus, been backstage and onstage, in the hands of countless music icons since the beginning of rock and roll.
Along with footage taken by the famous rock photographer, Danny Clinch, the marketing campaign used historic footage, ticket stubs, actual concert flyers and images of bathroom graffiti.
Along with the television advertising, there was also content pushed out on Facebook, YouTube and the brand’s own website, jackdaniels.com.
The “Legend” campaign came on the heels of a special edition of the whiskey launched to mark Frank Sinatra’s 100th Birthday and to celebrate his 50-year relationship with the brand. It was an interactive campaign that was launched inDecember 2012 at Las Vegas airport, featuring tasting stations and opportunities to view and listen to all things Sinatra. In early 2013, the campaign expanded to 200 airports across the US, coinciding with the above iconic “Legend” marketing strategy.
This nostalgic theme to Jack Daniels’ marketing was a hit with their target audience, with the whiskey brand rising 27% in NBC Universal Integrated Media’s Brand Power Index from the last quarter of 2012 to the first of quarter 2013. The BPI ranks the most talked-about brands each quarter (determined by social media buzz and online searches, amongst others). It was found that the brands with nostalgic messages in their content marketing resonated much more strongly with their audience.
When Microsoft launched their 2013 version of Internet Explorer, they did so with a marketing strategy that took consumers (appealing to those born during the 1990s) on a journey through time. A short video featured everything from bum-bags, trolls, bad haircuts and virtual pets to pumpable sneakers, yo-yo tricks, floppy disks and portable cassette players.
The tagline was “You grew up. So did we”, which invited users to reconnect with the browser. The BPI for both Microsoft and Microsoft Windows grew as well – 18% from quarter four in 2012 to quarter one in 2013 – due to the video going viral.
Getting nostalgia right can take a bit of effort, but it’s worth it. As a content marketer, you need to understand your prospects and be able to tailor your message to fit them. Just any old vintage meme or Instagram post won’t be effective if it doesn’t have something to do with both your target audience and your product or brand.
Due to the fact that the public is savvy to most marketing ploys, evoking some nostalgia in your content is a tool to engage with them on a deeper, more emotional level. You needn’t use it all the time, but at certain moments during the year, nostalgia will be the perfect way to solidify your connection with current followers, and create new ones.