Why Nostalgia Advertising’s Future Will Look Back… With Nostalgia

by Rubén Terrazas, Copy Editor/Translator

I pity the fool who wants to bank on nostalgia to create entertainment or market products and services 35 years from now.

Nostalgia advertising is powerful. It packs everything we liked from a time gone by and sends tingles of goody-goody feelings down your spine, shoots them up your brain and straight into your heart.

No wonder, then, that creators and creatives alike are banking on it to sell, market and entertain. However, will they be able to rely on this strategy in the future?


“Stranger Things” Hit All The Right Buttons

If you haven’t been hiding under the proverbial rock these last couple of months, you’ll know that a certain little TV show called “Stranger Things” has been hitting it big-time. It has stellar performances, a compelling story, great effects, and is overall entertaining. But what made it stand out from the rest this season, what really made it the center of the virtual watercooler conversations, was its 80s nostalgia.

For the show’s viewers who grew up in the late 70s and early and middle 80s, the walkie-talkies, bicycle-riding in packs, made-at-home Dungeons & Dragons manuals – not to mention the constant references and tributes to classics like E.T., The Goonies and Alien – made all the difference. 


What Will Happen When Everything’s Always Available Everywhere?

The problem that future nostalgia pitchers might run into is that for it to work, the item or idea being relived has to have been gone for a while. And in today’s digital, mobile world, nothing’s ever really gone for too long.

A friend of mine recently sent pictures from my middle-school years – at school, with my school buddies – in Mexico. Up to then, I had none. Every single one I owned was lost when I lost the photo album they were in. So, when she sent those five or six photos of my friends and me in our khaki uniforms and graduation day’s best, nostalgia hit full force. I relived (or it felt like it) entire years in minutes.


I’m the third from the left with the bewildered look on his face.

Kids today don’t have that handicap – or is it privilege? If they don’t already have tons of pictures in their phones, tablets, computers and external or virtual drives, then their friends, teachers and relatives will sure be able to spare one or two if needed. Right there and then, with the click of a button.

The same goes for movies, TV shows and all other kinds of electronic forms of entertainment. Back in the day, once you saw it in its cinematic premiere or when cancellation hit, that was it. You had to wait months for a movie to be shown – formatted, of course, and just once – on TV or for it to hit the shelves in the form of a VHS tape. If you were lucky and had cable, some channel might pick up your lost show and rerun it. If not, that was that. At least sometimes you had the metal lunchbox to remember it by.

Today, though, movies go from premiere to home-viewing way sooner. And you can stream your favorite shows, movies, concerts and all other forms of media using the Netflixes and Hulus of the world to your heart’s content.


Is It Time To Leave Things In The Past?

How, then, will nostalgia be summoned in the future for the current generation? Creatives will have to really get creative to present something in nostalgia advertising that hasn’t really been gone as a thing we should be missing. I really pity the fool.

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Dieste Inc