Nostalgia in Advertising

As consumers the advertisements we view daily have increased tremendously. From the Internet, to mobile, to video advertising; the World Wide Web is taking over. Consumer behavior is based on a large variety of details and cannot be simply described in one word. There are a variety of approaches to reaching consumers in the advertising of a product. As humans we all have a bittersweet longing for things, persons, or situations of the past. This statement simply defines nostalgia. Marketers and Advertisers use nostalgic advertising to connect with their consumers.

The use of nostalgia as an advertising approach has been pushed by numerous trade publications as an extremely effective and persuasive advertising tactic. Advertisers connect their brands by using words, pictures, music or scenes with a by-gone era to remind viewers of their promotions. With this, they hope these nostalgic feelings can reminds consumers in a positive way and affect their attitudes and buying behaviors. A variety of marketing research studies do show that the use of nostalgia in advertising does stimulate attention, is entertaining, is persuasive, and reminds nostalgic reflections in consumers.

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Not only do the ads create positive emotions, consumers recall mental images of former situations and experiences. In comparison studies, nostalgic advertising induces more positive emotions and more intensive mental images than non-nostalgic advertisements. (http://dmn3. com/_blog/DMN3_Blog/post/hh/) The combination of emotions and images brought to the consumer’s attention by the ad generates a positive resonance toward both the ad and the product being advertised. Nostalgic advertising has been a common trend in companies, and it appears to be a popular theme during economically troubling times.

When the recession began in 2008, and continued to take a toll on the economy marketers used the approach of tapping into fond memories to help sell what few products shoppers were still buying. In using this tactic the hope is that warm, fuzzy feelings about the past will help make people feel better about the present and future. Reviving vintage slogans and jingles as well as package designs, bringing back familiar products and menu items to stores and restaurants and bringing back moments from pop culture are certain ways companies have approached nostalgic advertising. The merchants of nostalgia nd these tactics include well known company names like Coca-Cola, General Mills, McDonalds, MillerCoors, Target, Unilever, and Toys ‘R’ Us. These companies have such a history of advertising, that sometimes the best way to reach out to a consumer is to give them a little reminder of what they were missing. Advertisers and marketers have to remember that as times are changing the generation they previously reached is getting older, however they still remember those moments that touched them as children. Memories are a huge part of our brain, and sometimes a small reminder of such an emotion can go a long way.

One specific nostalgic advertisement I am going to focus on was this Christmas when Toys ‘R’ Us took a different approach towards their holiday advertising. They brought back two commercials; Both commercials feature the brand character Geoffrey the Giraffe and one of them includes the familiar jingle written by the advertising executive Linda Kaplan Thaler that begins, “I don’t wanna grow up, I’m a Toys ‘R’ Us kid. ” Toys ‘R’ Us was huge when I was a kid, I can almost remember singing the theme song “I don’t wanna grow up”.

The return of these commercials was to reach the generation of kids who grew up with the Toys ‘R’ Us brand. It may not have specifically made me go out and purchase toys from the store, however it hit home and reminded me entirely of my childhood. Marketing research has shown a postivie resonance with both nostalgic ads and the products advertises, it even shows more persuasive influence on consumers. However, with the lack of clear correlation to either purchase intent or actual purchase of the products advertised, they must trust that the positive resonance towards the ad and products will translate into an increase in sales.

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