Why Nostalgic Marketing Works so Well

nostalgic marketing

Building connections through nostalgic marketing is a way for your brand to leverage the optimism that comes with a walk down memory lane. From the memory of Milky Way car races to the magical sound of Walt Disney’s castle loading at the start of a movie, nostalgia plays a big part in how we perceive brands. Using nostalgic marketing to target a specific age demographic or invoke emotion in your target audience can be an invaluable tactic for brands.

Nostalgia | a wistful or excessively sentimental yearning for return to or of some past period or irrecoverable condition

Recently we have seen nostalgic marketing used in McDonald’s newest TV advert by creative agency Wieden + Kennedy. The ad titled As Featured In, takes us on a walk down memory lane showing the most iconic movies, TV shows, cult classics and pop songs the brand has famously featured in—everything from Seinfeld, Richy Rich, The US Office and now Loki Season 2. The beauty of this ad is they are showcasing their brand assets without sharing a product. They are also bringing up the feeling of nostalgia.

It begs the question of why nostalgia in marketing works so well.

The simple answer is, that nostalgic marketing creates a positive, emotional feeling by using familiar ideas to associate a brand with fond memories. All by tapping into positive cultural memories from previous decades through music, movies and pop culture moments. To successfully achieve nostalgic marketing the key is to create an emotional hook and know your audience inside and out. Knowing the types of shows they like, what supermarkets they shop at, the kind of car they drive all down to their age. Nostalgic Marketing won’t work if you don’t know your audience and you’re not hitting the right age demographic.

Nostalgic Marketing can be most effective for targeting 90’s kids. Millennials are one of the key demographics for nostalgia marketing, probably because we love the feeling of nostalgia and the reminders of childhood it brings. Millennials grew up in the internet boom when times were a little simpler and in today’s world of everything all at once, we long for reminders.

Recently this was seen in the new Barbie movie, where a classic childhood toy was brought to life. It sparked the conversation of which Barbie are you? And it brought that warm fuzzy feeling of days gone by.

Barbie movie in the cinema. ©hamara – stock.adobe.com


Another brand that has excelled in nostalgia marketing is Coca-Cola when they brought back the iconic shaped bottles. More recently they launched a collab with the It Girl of the early 2000’s Kate Moss.

The iconic, classic Coca-Cola glass bottle. ©Maksim – stock.adobe.com


Back in 2016, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System Classic Mini. The product featured a simple plug-and-play set-up similar to the old Nintendo giving a wave of nostalgia to kids who grew up gaming.

Nintendo Classic Mini. Modernised version of the original with preinstalled games. ©Gudellaphoto – stock.adobe.com


When done right, nostalgic marketing can be a success and a brilliant way to target your key demographic. To learn more about successful marketing strategies to reach your target audience contact us today.


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