Nostalgia Marketing

Why revisiting the past is so powerful in building brand.

Nostalgia Marketing borrows trends in an effort to take people back to “simpler times” and to evoke warm fuzzy feelings, which they then attribute back to your brand.

Brands across the world have tapped into this, and it’s popping up everywhere, from Netflix’s Stranger Things to Nintendo’s vintage t-shirts and even McDonald’s, who recently announced they plan to introduce a Happy Meal for Adults, complete with a vintage collectable toy (no, not that kind of adult toy).

People naturally romanticise the past, and particularly in unusually volatile periods nostalgia marketing gives a sense of comfort by presenting a trustworthy, dependable brand that leverages the past to relieve the uncertainty of the future. It can take various forms, like through the resurrection of an old, popular product or a successful ad campaign, or even just celebrating a business anniversary or important milestone. 

The decade we’re revisiting most commonly now is 1990’s throwbacks, and it’s because Millennials have almost overtaken Baby Boomers as the largest generation (Millennials overtook Boomers in 2020 in the United States).

Millennials, born between 1981 and 1995, have increased from 20.4% of the population in 2011 to 21.5% in 2021. Baby Boomers, people born between 1946 and 1965, have decreased from 25.4% of the population to 21.5% in the same period.
(Source: ABS 2021 Census)

This is supported by what’s on-trend in the world of fashion and it’s all of the clothes that were big through the 90’s.

Some examples of Nostalgia Marketing:

This year’s most successful Super Bowl ad was from Coinbase. Simply a QR code emulating the old DVD loading screen of the early 2000’s.


The bouncing DVD logo screen, a reminder back to ‘simpler times’, was boosted in pop culture through this brilliant scene in The US Version of The Office.

Fast Food giant Burger King turned back the clock in their 2021 brand refresh, resurrecting their old look to tap into those ‘warm fuzzies’.


Burger King rebrand


Other fun examples include the remake of the Fisher-Price® Chatter Telephone with Bluetooth, for adults!

One iconic Australian brand who has leveraged nostalgia marketing to great effect is Country Road. I’m especially impressed with their recent campaign for their Chambray shirt, reissued and made in Australia.


Country Road

So, how can you use nostalgia in your business? 

You may be thinking “how does this apply to my business, we’re a B2B service-based company?”

As I always say when playing Cards Against Humanity, “Know your audience”. The number one thing to consider is who are you creating this for? Who are you trying to connect with? What would evoke happy memories to them and their generation?

It could be your employees or customers, or both if they share similar demographics. But laser-focused is going to be more compelling than a watered-down, catchall approach.

If your company has a long history, it’s going to be easier. You could share photos or memories of when the company was incorporated, design a retro inspired company uniform, or ‘retro’ jersey (similar to what sporting teams do).

For newer businesses, it might be more about designing or creating something new that’s inspired by a moment in time that would be nostalgic for a particular audience.

With the help of a designer, you could repackage or redesign an existing product or service in the theme or flavour of a historic era.

Or even look at sourcing custom merchandise as a client gift, or as part of an employee welcome pack. Like these iron-on patches we recently designed for 1064 Gold, for their employees’ luggage and uniforms.

An easy, low-cost option could be simply creating a Spotify playlist from the year your company was incorporated, or even when your founder was born and sharing that.

So if you feel like taking a trip down memory lane, I encourage you to get your team together and brainstorm a few ideas of things you could do that would give your audience that warm feeling of nostalgia, and tie it back to your brand.

Want some help? Give us a call.