Nostalgia. That feeling I get when I think of 7-up (the classroom game, not the soft drink), gel pens, and MSN messenger (yes, I was a 90’s kid).
There’s something to be said for the emotions associated to memories, especially childhood memories. Much like happiness, nostalgia is a tough emotion to evoke in others. But that doesn’t mean brands don’t try.
Nostalgia marketing is not a new concept. In an era of #TBT, millennials (I cringe at the term) tap into archived memories on a weekly basis. From Microsoft, to Apple, to McDonalds and Pepsi, some of the top brands in the world have turned to nostalgia marketing over the past few years as they try to reach a number of audiences—especially the elusive millennial.
Many are trying, some are succeeding, and a few are excelling. The brands knocking it out of the park, though, are the ones that create movements soaked in nostalgia by building engaging digital content. They create the conversation, and then fuel the fire with hashtags, teasers and constant content to bring their target audiences into the conversation.
There are a few brands lately getting it really right.
Beauty and the Beast
There was no shortage of hype surrounding the recent live-action remake of Disney’s 1991 Beauty and the Beast.
Sure, the movie had the obvious on its side: Beauty and the Beast is a Disney classic, adored by many. But through the film’s Facebook account, they built on its existing following, now with over 17 million followers, by posting a combination of photos, video clips and articles that featured the original and live-action films on a near-daily basis for months leading up to the release of the film.
With the plot of the film well-known to their target audience, they used gifs, sneak peek videos of classic songs and leaked plot lines to build suspense and buzz. And it worked. In just ten days, it became the highest-grossing live-action musical of all time.
Monopoly is a board game pretty much everyone can associate with a power outage, family games night or lost friendship. The game is 82 years old, meaning the tokens are a familiar sight for pretty much everyone who has ever played the game, and they have rarely been replaced. So it was big news this year when Monopoly announced it was replacing three classic tokens with new ones.
Using a landing page, Hasbro drove fans to vote for which three tokens they wanted to see replace the iconic wheelbarrow, boot and thimble. Over 4.2 million people voted for the new tokens, and brands like Reebok, Citi Bike, Purina, Ace Hardware and Zipcar actively engaged with the campaign, spreading its reach to hundreds of thousands of their collective followers. Social engagement, along with active pitching to news channels, created an integrated conversation that reached audiences across multiple channels.
In the end, the penguin, t-rex and rubber duck came out on top. And with four million actively engaged fans, I’d argue Monopoly came on as the real winner.
We’re in the midst of a huge online debate: which crayon will survive? Tomorrow, on National Crayon Day, Crayola will retire a crayon colour from its iconic 24-count box.
Crayola is taking its campaign to a number of different platforms: it has set up a countdown on its website. It’s hosting a Facebook Live event in Times Square. The hashtag #WhosLeaving has generated thousands of tweets and Instagram posts over the past week, and followers are being encouraged to dig into their childhood (or adulthood—adult colouring has become a thing) and #ShareYourFave across Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
So what can we take away from these brands?
- Do your research. Know who your audience is. Make sure your campaign aligns with memories it cares about, wants to embrace, and will share.
- Know where your audience is, and be there. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat…the right platform is key.
- Use different forms of media. Use a mixture of photos, videos, gifs or Boomerangs, for example, to keep your content interesting.
- Use influencers to increase your campaign reach. Leverage their followers and showcase their posts to demonstrate you’re a part of a larger conversation.
- Encourage engagement. Ask questions to your audience. Use hashtags followers can embrace. Be responsive and respond to those mentioning you.
——— Written by Kristi McKee, former Senior Consultant, Integrated Strategy, NATIONAL Public Relations