Nostalgia Advertising: Why It Works and How to Nail It

Nostalgia advertising is not a gimmick, it’s one of the stickiest messages you could hope for because it resonates with viewers on a deeply emotional level.

From classic jingles to iconic imagery, nostalgia advertising taps into our collective memories, creating a potent connection that transcends time.

Utilizing the magic of nostalgia in videos has proven to be a captivating strategy that resonates with audiences of all ages.

Videos, as a medium, possess an unparalleled ability to transport viewers through time and space.

Speaking of videos, our video animation company specializes in creating animated explainers. Here’s a recent project we finished for a client.

If you like what you see, get in touch! We can make something like this for you.

Want a video for your business?


In this article, we delve into why nostalgia advertising works so effectively and offer tips on how to make an effective one yourself.


The science behind nostalgia advertising

Nostalgia advertising thrives on the principle that reminiscing about positive past experiences triggers a surge of positive emotions.

This emotional charge creates a unique bond between the audience and the advertised product or brand.

When we encounter an ad that reminds us of the “good old days,” our brains release feel-good chemicals, making us more receptive and inclined to engage with the message.

Read more: Pharmaceutical Advertising: Top 6 Videos to Inspire You


The power of familiarity

Nostalgia advertising capitalizes on the familiarity of the past. Brands often resurrect vintage logos, packaging, or characters, instantly transporting consumers back to a time when life seemed more simple.

For example, Volkswagen’s The Force ad, which aired during a Super Bowl, featured a young boy dressed as Darth Vader trying to use “the Force” on various objects.

The ad tapped into nostalgia for the Star Wars franchise, appealing to both older fans who grew up with the original movies and younger generations who were introduced to the series later.

Such familiarity cultivates a sense of trust and reliability, as people associate positive memories with the brand. It’s like reuniting with an old friend – you’re more likely to open up and listen.


Examples of nostalgia in ads

Here are a few video examples of successful nostalgia advertising campaigns that effectively tap into the power of nostalgia to engage and connect with their audiences:

Coca-Cola: Share A Coke

This campaign is a prime example of nostalgia advertising. By personalizing their cans and bottles with popular names and phrases, Coca-Cola triggered memories of sharing a Coke with friends and loved ones, making the brand a part of people’s personal experiences.


Google: Year in Search

Google’s annual Year in Search videos brilliantly uses nostalgia to reflect on the events and moments that shaped the past year.

By combining popular search queries with emotionally resonant music and visuals, Google taps into shared experiences and emotions.


Apple: Think Different

Apple paid tribute to historical figures who made a significant impact on the world.

The use of famous faces and powerful messages evoked a sense of admiration and inspiration, connecting the brand with positive values and nostalgia for the past.


Nike: Dream Crazy

Nike’s campaign featuring former NFL player Colin Kaepernick, celebrates athletes who push boundaries and challenge norms.

The use of archival footage of legendary athletes invokes nostalgia for historic moments in sports, while also connecting with contemporary social issues.


Nintendo Switch

This commercial cleverly showcases its gaming console’s versatility by highlighting different settings and gameplay scenarios.

By seamlessly transitioning between the console’s portability and home use, the ad taps into a sense of nostalgia for classic gaming experiences while introducing modern features.

Read more: The Importance of Inclusive and Diverse Marketing


Tips for nailing nostalgia in advertising

Know your audience

Research your target audience’s generational preferences and shared experiences. What trends, music, or cultural references define their past? Tailor your nostalgic elements to resonate with their memories.


Stay authentic

Authenticity is key. Don’t force a nostalgic theme if it doesn’t align with your brand’s history or values. Your audience can sense when something is genuine and when it’s merely a ploy.


Blend past with the present

Striking a balance between nostalgia and modern relevance is crucial. Infuse familiar elements with contemporary twists to show that your brand is evolving while honoring its heritage.


Emotion over product

Remember, nostalgia advertising isn’t just about pushing a product; it’s about evoking emotions. Focus on the feelings you want to elicit, and let the product naturally become a part of that narrative.

Watch this video to understand why people buy emotions and not things.


Visual and auditory cues

Use visuals, such as vintage aesthetics or old-fashioned props, and auditory cues like retro music or familiar voices to trigger memories and create a multisensory experience.

Read more: How to Edit Video for Social Media


Tap into universality

While individual memories may differ, certain themes, like friendship, first love, or childhood dreams, are universal. Craft narratives that tap into these timeless themes.


Harness user-generated content

Encourage your audience to share their own nostalgic stories or experiences related to your brand. User-generated content adds authenticity and expands the emotional resonance.


That’s a wrap

Nostalgia advertising is a time-tested approach that can bridge the gap between the past and the present, forging emotional connections that leave a lasting impact.

By understanding the science behind nostalgia, embracing familiarity, and employing authenticity, brands can create marketing campaigns that resonate deeply with consumers.

By following these tips and weaving heartfelt stories, marketers can effectively capture the essence of nostalgia, creating ads that not only sell products but also touch hearts and minds.

Posted by Samra Tiwana

Subscribe to the MotionCue Newsletter

For monthly video and marketing insights from company founder/CEO Osama Khabab

Contact Us

    This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.