The power of nostalgia in marketing

Thought Leadership

In light of COVID-19, every brand is having to reassess how to speak to their community. Audiences are more sensitive than ever, which means you need to be extremely careful in your messaging. The trick is to find a way of adding value to conversations – you’ll stay front-of-mind by meeting people’s practical and emotional needs when they need you most.

One way to do this is to focus on the familiar through the power of nostalgia. Uncertain times make it difficult to plan ahead, which is what makes the past so comforting. In recent weeks we’ve seen people rediscover beloved Gameboys, TikTokers recreate The Office theme tune, and Instagrammers share old holiday shots, but why is the past so appealing? Andrew Abeyta, assistant professor of psychology, explains, “nostalgia is a potent reminder of what makes our lives meaningful.” In other words, it gives us a sense of hope and normality – especially important in times of crisis.

Rather than pushing a product or service, marketing through nostalgia encourages communities to reminisce on why they love your brand. Even if customers aren’t in a position to buy right now, it reinforces brand reputation and keeps you on the radar. Here’s how to put it into practice. 

Use existing assets
You don’t have to create new visuals; it’s a matter of using what you already have. Our Chief Strategy Officer, Mobbie Nazir, points out that tapping into nostalgia helps with the current issue of producing new content, as brands can use existing assets. #NBATogetherLive is a great example of this, creating events out of old game reruns. But this isn’t exclusive to social media – the BBC also announced plans to air repeats of the London 2012 Olympics and England’s 1996 Euros matches to fill the gaps of this year’s postponed Olympics and Euros.

Unlock the value of UGC
User-generated content is a great way to spark conversation among your community. People want to get involved, whether that’s sharing old memories or recreating activities at home, and brands are approaching this in different ways. Glastonbury, which should have been preparing for its 50th anniversary, is getting fans to relieve their favourite moments with #glastophotos. Elsewhere, people are recreating activities they miss that they used to take for granted, such as heading to Wagamama for dinner, or grabbing a Chipotle for lunch with friends, and sharing these experiences on social media.

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wok from home. week one. your menu is as follows… . 👉 wednesday 6pm – the one + only, chicken katsu curry (yes we heard you!) . 👉 friday 6pm – wok fried greens. for all those requesting some veg drawer inspo . 👉 swipe across for your ingredients list + let us know if you are having trouble finding anything. steve will do his best to suggest some swaps . katsu on wednesday @6pm. streaming on IGTV, facebook + youtube

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Don’t forget the ‘fauxstalgics’
Whether you’re bringing back an old ad, or alluding to the “good old days”, you aren’t only speaking to a community that remembers it the first time around – take the ubiquity of repurposed war posters on social media as an example. People don’t need to have lived through an era to be nostalgic about it, which is evident in Metallica’s #MetallicaMondays old gig reruns on Instagram.

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We’re heading back in time to the #WorldMagnetic Tour for tonight’s edition of #MetallicaMondays! Tune in for free at 8 PM EDT / 5 PM PDT to catch Metallica: Live in Copenhagen – July 22, 2009. The complete show will stream on YouTube or Facebook – subscribe to our channel for alerts as streaming begins! #StayHome

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The conversations that are happening on social media demonstrate the power of nostalgia to reinforce connections in this crisis. Whether this nostalgia is generating connections in your community, or encouraging your community with loved ones, these shared memories are creating the intimacy that people currently miss so much.


This article was written by our Writer, Danielle Clark

*Header image courtesy of @ne0liberal.