Why Advertisers Embrace Nostalgia Marketing

Why Advertisers Embrace Nostalgia Marketing

Advertising

In Rob Sheffield’s autobiographical memoir, Love Is a Mix Tape, Sheffield observes, “I get sentimental over the music of the ‘90s. Deplorable, really. But I love it all. As far as I’m concerned the ‘90s was the best era for music ever, even the stuff that I loathed at the time, even the stuff that gave me stomach cramps.” Sheffield is talking about nostalgia. Smart marketers know how to tap that vein. Research shows us that nostalgia gives our lives, whether we are 20 or 80, a sensation of comfort, continuity, and meaning. What businesses wouldn’t want to evoke those feelings in a customer? Hence the rise of nostalgia marketing, which uses past themes or products to evoke a specific, positive emotion in customers. Nostalgia marketing isn’t new, exactly — when you see the word “throwback” in relation to a brand, that’s nostalgia marketing at work — but in recent weeks, shows such as Netflix’s Stranger Things have underlined just how powerful nostalgia marketing can be.

Why Nostalgia Works

The irony of nostalgia marketing is, of course, that the past helps make a business more relevant to current interests. Look a little deeper, though, and it’s not hard to see the allure. Research shows that nostalgia can act as an antidote to boredom, loneliness, and anxiety. It can literally make people feel warmer on cold days. And from the perspective of the advertiser, it’s a gold mine in that it can reach multiple generations equally effectively. Nostalgia marketing appeals to the college student stressed by exams who finds refuge in references to beloved cartoons from their childhood. It also attracts the overworked middle-aged manager, who gets a boost from that can of New Coke. And therein lies the power of nostalgia marketing: it’s not limited to a certain age bracket.

In The Upside Down . . . and Beyond

Stranger Things, the Netflix series that is equal parts sci fi exploration of the parallel universe of The Upside Down and‘80s homage, provides a great example of nostalgia marketing. Look no further than the copious New Coke references in the show’s Season 3, which takes place in 1985, the same year New Coke made its short-lived (79-day!) debut. Sure, New Coke may have been a debacle at the time, but fast-forward to 2019, when the beverage giant has the opportunity to turn an embarrassment into a win. By making New Coke (briefly) available again — Coke spent six months poring over records to make sure the New Coke design and recipe were properly recreated — and generating advertising tie-ins to the show, Coke is hoping it can play on nostalgia to court older consumers who remember the advent of New Coke in the first place (whether they liked it or not). But it’s not just an older generation that’s being targeted: younger Netflix viewers from the millennial and Gen Z generations love the show, and because they don’t have any strong negative associations with New Coke, they represent a rich new demographic.

Pepsi has also been known to rewind the clock. In 2013, PepsiCo took advantage of the social phenomenon #ThrowbackThursday to generate some buzz about product, posting images of its “throwback” Pepsi sodas, which were made with “real sugar” as opposed to the high-fructose corn syrup soda manufacturers switched to back in the 1980s in response to tariffs.

Other brands, such as Wendy’s, have used classic photos for Throwback Thursday posts; Wendy’s underlined the nostalgia by pointing out how the fast-food chain debuted the first modern-day pick-up window.

Wimbledon, the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and arguably the most prestigious, has also embraced nostalgia in a bid to generate more revenue. As reported in Digiday, the tournament, as part of a six-week campaign, “created an immersive, theatrical recreation of the 1980 final between Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Billed as a virtual time capsule of sorts, the recreation of the match was backed by archive footage from the real one on the tournament’s social media channels.”

Doing Nostalgia Marketing the Right Way

Like any marketing strategy, nostalgia marketing comes with a few ground rules. To achieve the best results, you want to do it right, namely:

  • Know your audience. Are they going to understand or appreciate the throwback?
  • Leverage all the tools you can, ranging from social to online advertising.
  • Know the nostalgia “hot spots.” Create content that targets your audience’s elementary and high school years, generally ages six to 16. And don’t forget “parental nostalgia,” the nostalgia many parents feel for their children’s childhoods.
  • Try to draw on content creators who actually lived in the time or place your brand is recalling. Someone who participated in the experience in the first place is much more likely to invest the marketing with emotion and meaning.
  • Take advantage of brand history if your company has been around awhile. Nostalgia strategies can be built around reminding customers of the positive experiences they’ve had with a product over the years.
  • Pay attention to the details and get the callback right.

Bottom line: authenticity is key.

Contact True Interactive

True Interactive knows how to plan and implement digital advertising of all kinds, including throwback themes. Contact us to build your business with online advertising.

Why Netflix Might Embrace Advertising

Why Netflix Might Embrace Advertising

Advertising

Netflix and its boosters are celebrating the company’s first ever Best Picture Oscar nomination for Roma – but the company is also catching fire from investors. Although its fourth-quarter 2018 financial results beat Wall Street estimates for earnings per share, revenue fell below projections.

Netflix also faces other formidable challenges, such as increased competition from streaming services (e.g., Amazon and Hulu), the entrance of new services such as Disney+, and the enormous cost of spending on original content. So perhaps it’s no surprise that Netflix has raised prices. But in recent months, Netflix has also been testing ads between episodes, and its customers have not been happy about this development. The company said that trailer tests were just a way to surface new programs to loyal viewers, claiming it will help members “discover stories they will enjoy faster.”

With pressure coming from multiple sides, how can Netflix increase revenue and expand its subscriber base without losing its customers?

Competition from Hulu

We’ve seen at least one streaming service employ advertising: Hulu. When Hulu first launched in 2007, all content was completely free and supported by advertisements. In 2010, the company launched its first subscription option while maintaining the original ad-supported tier. Then in late 2016, the brand migrated towards a subscription model. Today Hulu offers ad-supported and ad-free pricing tiers.

The ad-supported tier has served Hulu well by increasing brand awareness and expanding its subscriber base. Granted, Netflix does not need to boost brand recognition. However, Netflix (and Amazon, for that matter) could benefit from this strategy if it wants to enter into new markets, which should be a priority for Netflix given the financial turmoil the brand has been recently experiencing.

Providing an ad-supported service plan might sound like a step backwards to Netflix stockholders. If Hulu moved away from it, why would Netflix bother?

  1. Original Content

The creation of original content is perhaps the most dramatic change in the way streaming services operate. Whereas audiences used to turn to streaming services to watch, say Finding Nemo, people now use these services for original movies and shows, a reality that was underscored by Netflix’s Roma being nominated for 10 Academy Awards.

With Disney’s new movie streaming platform launching later this year, it is clear that movie streaming companies no longer want to simply be a content warehouse, storing thousands of movies and TV shows made by third parties. Netflix, Hulu and Amazon want to lure potential customers into becoming subscribers through their exclusive movies and shows. This means that streaming platforms have the bargaining power, as they all have some unique value nobody will find elsewhere.

The quality content matters. Unique content attracts more paying subscribers, which gives Netflix a bigger platform for potential advertising. With 139 million subscribers worldwide, Netflix could easily increase that number by introducing an ad-supported tier. Doing so would also help relieve some of the financial pressure caused by the expensive production costs of original content – around $12 billion in 2018 alone, and expected to grow by 25 percent  to a whopping $15 billion mark in 2019.

  1. Google/Facebook Duopoly

It’s no secret that a large number of companies today are directing a good portion of their ad spend to Google and Facebook/Instagram (and, increasingly, Amazon). Other channels simply cannot match the performance, scale, and targeting capabilities of these tech giants. The growth of these platforms also reflects the strength of the digital advertising industry and suggests that there is room for more businesses to launch advertising based on their built-in audiences. As noted, Netflix has a growing audience with 139 million subscribers – and Netflix aspires to grow more especially outside the United States.

3 Targeting Capabilities

Knowledge is power. Think about all the behavioral data and Netflix has on its subscribers. Netflix can offer advertisers advanced interest targeting based on their activity on each platform. By using algorithms and machine learning, Netflix can predict which type of content a specific user may want to consume next. This data could also be used to serve users ads that are relevant, and for marketers, effective. In addition, with the help of pixels, Netflix would be able to collect data outside its environment just like Google and Facebook do, thus providing advertisers with more insights on the consumer behavior outside the streaming services and the customer journey.

It’s too soon yet to know if Netflix will launch an ad-supported tier. However, I wouldn’t be surprised if it does in the near future, as companies built on the “ad-free” premise are now acknowledging their advertising potential and evaluating the cost-benefit relationship of introducing ads to their platforms, just like Whatsapp. Is advertising revenue too tempting for Netflix?

To maximize the value of your online advertising, contact True Interactive. We’re here to help.