Reactivating Retro

The Company
25 July 2019

There’s just something about nostalgia that works so well in the marketing world where people long for the comfort of something familiar.

According to Google, 75% of 35-54-year olds regularly watch YouTube videos related to past events and people. Meanwhile, Target Marketing Magazine shares that Gen Z loves buying prints. What’s more, despite being digital natives, 98% still shop at physical stores.

Big brands like Levi’s, Adidas, and Coca Cola have in recent years executed marketing campaigns with a vintage focus. Other brands live to embody the vintage experience: Sunnylife showcases the retro lifestyle with a line of vintage-patterned items, while platforms like Etsy highlight the selling of handmade vintage items.

The Past Revisited

There’s a certain buzz that comes with bringing the past back to life. Maybe it’s because we can’t actually go back to the past ourselves, but we can bring (things from) the past back to us.

When Nintendo launched Pokémon GO in 2016, they were struggling, losing a battle against the rise of mobile game applications.

But, by fetching the once popular Japanese animation out of anachronism with their augmented reality mobile game, they had hebetudinous couch potatoes on their feet hunting for the nearest or furthest Pokémons or walking to hatch their eggs.

Since then, Nintendo’s shares have gone up 200% according to CNBC, with the game creating a halo effect that boosted sales across their entire product range.

A clear-cut example of bringing a bygone childhood memory seamlessly into the present with the help of augmented reality technology.

When Nokia revamped its iconic 3310 (the phone synonymous with indestructibility) in 2017, a flurry of sentimentality surrounded its rerelease, especially from users who owned the phone when it first came out.

And then we have this year’s Avengers: Endgame, a culmination of an entire cinematic universe eleven years in the making. Promotional video material leading up to its release made sure to recap the twenty-one films that came before it, mainly in the form of shots edited together at breakneck speed.

The filmmakers had some real treats in store for their loyal audiences. In the film’s time-travelling sequence, audiences got to go back and relive some of their favourite scenes from previous instalments. And the film closed with the sound of Tony Stark building his first Iron Man suit – the sound that started it all.

Playing to their aural memory like this sent audiences crying and cheering, and sent Marvel straight to the bank. As of July 2019, the film has surpassed James Cameron’s Avatar as the highest-grossing film of all time.

That’s what happens when you hit the nostalgia button. You give consumers glimpses into their fond and cherished memories, and they’re more likely to stop and engage.

In this instance, a brand becomes more than just a brand. It becomes a positive emotional trigger.

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