The Marketing Society Forum: Is Nostalgia the Lazy Option for Brands When It Comes to Marketing Creative?

Marketing, November 23, 2011 | Go to article overview

The Marketing Society Forum: Is Nostalgia the Lazy Option for Brands When It Comes to Marketing Creative?


Nokia plans to feature its classic Snake game in its marketing activity, while John Lewis has used a track by The Smiths in its latest Christmas ad, just two examples of attempts to tap into nostalgia.

NO - TRACEY FOLLOWS, MANAGING PARTNER, HEAD OF PLANNING, VCCP

Not when it makes sense strategically. For Nokia it's smart. It is trying to remind people, and itself, of the glory days of the brand, when it was user-friendly and well-designed.

It has lost its way since, but there is no harm in tapping into sentiment and reminding people that what once was great could be good again.

As the character Don Draper says in his infamous Kodak Carousel pitch on Mad Men: 'Technology is a glittering lure but there is the rare occasion ... when people have a sentimental bond with the product.'

He describes nostalgia as a yearning that goes beyond just memory. John Lewis used the yearning for that era in which technology seemed a lot simpler.

So, for some technology brands and retailers with an audience formed by the early majority, rather than the early adopters, nostalgia is a valuable tool. Many people are excited by, but uncertain about technology, so giving reassurance that they aren't buying into a gimmicky product is a real benefit.

Nokia is setting out to remind those people of that.

MAYBE - DON WILLIAMS, CHIEF EXECUTIVE, PI GLOBAL

Nostalgia is a useful tool for marketers, but only when it's used appropriately and is relevant to the brand.

Nokia has been under big pressure to turn its fortunes around. It has been under attack from brands like Apple, which is built on a monster of an emotional platform.

While Nokia can, and has, worked on the functionality and aesthetic appeal of its products, it finds it difficult to get close to the 'must have, positively need' appeal of an iPhone.

Nostalgia is all about emotion so bringing back something such as Snake, which was close to the hearts of its consumers more than 10 years ago, may go some small way to bridging the 'brand heart' gap.

Likewise, the use of a song by The Smiths for John Lewis' Christmas ad is entirely appropriate, because Christmas is about nostalgia and emotion.

However playing the cosy, nostalgia, cliche card, because the contemporary world is coming apart at the seams, does smack of desperation and a lack of relevant creativity. …

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