Chances are if you walk down the aisles of your favorite department store, you’ll see at least one ode to the 80s. Whether it’s a Stranger Things pop figure welcoming you into the toy section, or a Rolling Stones band tee rocking the clothing section, you’ll see the 80s have arrived – and they are here to stay. The question is: how can you make the most of this trend in your creative work?
Read on to see how you can comfort consumers during these difficult times by leveraging nostalgia.
Why Does Nostalgia Feel Good?
Ever hear a song from your childhood and immediately start feeling like you’re a kid again? Some aspects of being a kid (like eating in a crowded cafeteria, or being bombarded with homework each night) we would not like to relive. Yet, whenever something reminds us of our past, we want it all back. That’s the power of nostalgia; it reminds us about our pleasant memories, and shades the not-so-pleasant in a rosy tint of adoration.
Nostalgia helps us feel safe, loved and secure, especially during times of change or crisis. Oftentimes, we hold onto this nostalgia through a certain object, also known as a transitional object. Think of this like a child’s favorite toy or blanket. The object itself does not pull us through a difficult time. Rather, the emotions we tie to an object helps us find peace within chaos.
The current pandemic, which has overstayed its welcome, continues injecting consumers with anxiety and doubt. However, you can comfort your consumer and create a trustworthy brand image by incorporating notes of nostalgia in your creative work,
Plug in the VCR: Examples to Watch
There are many ways to incorporate nostalgia into your creative work. However, here are a few inspirational examples to watch/read before you start:
Celebrity Children’s Books
Turns out celebs have their own brands to look after: stylish Joanna Gaines, comical Jimmy Fallon, and cool Lil Nas X. Although well-established, many celebs have written children’s books to reimagine their brand. Most recently, Lil Nas X wrote “C is for Country,” which follows him and his horse Panini on a journey.
You might be wondering why celebrities would do such a thing. Some may be parents who just “get it,” like Jimmy Fallon. On the other hand, writing children’s books is a great strategy to position a celeb as appropriate, trustworthy and kind.
While a children’s book may not be the best route for your company, thinking of materials that remind your consumer about their childhood could be a strong, strategic move. With Christmas around the corner, this could be accomplished through gifts. Maybe it’s an 80s-themed gift box or mini Etch-a-sketch. Either way, thinking outside the box can help you break through the competition static.
America’s Favorite Celebs
Speaking of celebrities, what better feeling is there than seeing your favorite celebrity appear unexpectedly during a commercial break? Especially one from your childhood? More and more, companies are leaning on nostalgic celebrity endorsements to increase their awareness.
One example is John Goodman’s cameo in a Fisher-Price’s “Let’s Play” commercial. Goodman reminds parents about the joys of play, reminding them that even though they are older, they are always welcome back into the “world of play.”
Another notable example is the epic collaboration of Ryan Reynolds and Rick Moranis in a commercial for Mint Mobile. Reynolds, a user of Mint Mobile, expresses his disbelief that Mint Mobile has gone so long without an unlimited plan by inviting someone that America “has gone too long without”: Rick Moranis. The lighthearted commercial mostly consists of Reynolds admiring Moranis, with Moranis awkwardly leaving the situation at the end. With two of America’s most-loved actors, Mint Mobile positioned itself to be a lighthearted fan favorite.
While you may not have room in the budget for a celebrity endorsement, inviting past employees or owners to say a few words can help root your company in its original values and tradition.
Time Machine Strategies
While celebrities play a large role in landmarking periods of time, creative strategies that give the consumer a chance to relive the good ol’ days take nostalgic appeals to a whole new level.
Nintendo’s “Two Brothers” ad follows the story of two brothers who grow apart as the result of life events, but reunite on their love for video games. The spot reveals a harsh truth that families grow apart while also positioning the Nintendo Switch as a means of keeping families together. It’s the same video game experience the consumer always loved as a kid, just in different packaging.
You can also recreate a more recent memory. Liudas Dapkus, a well-known traveler and journalist, encouraged his followers to recreate their favorite travel photos from the comforts of their own home. The results were hilarious, and earned a spot in Travel+Leisure – which encouraged their readers to do the same with #LeanintoLeisure.
When you recreate memories, you become memorable.
Incorporating Nostalgia Into Your Creative
We’ve already uncovered that nostalgia helps put your audience at ease. Yet, you don’t have to date yourself back to the 80s in leveraging nostalgia. All you need to do is add a few gems within your creative.
Fonts: One way to do this is through fonts. Here’s a list for inspiration, but basically any fonts that remind you of arcades, or dressing up as KISS for Halloween should do the trick.
Brand Story: Another way to incorporate nostalgia is through your company’s history. What was the original logo? Slogan? Owners? Remastering your company’s roots can help remind your consumers about where you started, and how far you’ve grown.
Logos: In addition, placing old logos on new products can help your audience see a new item as familiar, increasing the likelihood of adoption. Paramount Pictures recently released Paramount+, its newest streaming platform. Yet, aware of the legacy of its starred logo, Paramount marketed the innovation with only one small change: 13 stars instead of 22 to represent each letter in “Paramount Plus.”
Music: You can also incorporate nostalgia with music. Recently, numerous artists have revitalized an 80s or 70s sound in their music, such as Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia.” Older artists have also made a comeback, including Stevie Nicks’ release of her “24K Gold Tour” in theatres. Using music reminiscent of the old days can help you leverage nostalgia in a subtle way.
You don’t need the flashy neon of the 80s, nor the beehives of the 60s, to comfort consumers during this time. All you need is a refreshing brand story, out-of-the-box applications and a superstar art team.