🍭 We noticed something about nostalgia…

A lot of the cultural output these days is shaped by our wish to look back to the times when things felt a little easier. Yes, I am talking about nostalgia. Trend analysts have been writing profusely about our odd collective wish to cosplay the 90s, Y2K, or even seemingly simpler times when we lived surrounded by nature and wore puff-sleeved dresses. Any criticism that emerged was mainly related to oversimplification of the past. We have repackaged and sold the memories back to ourselves to fit the emotional needs of the current times, leaving out the more painful aspects such as gender inequality or body image taboos.

But this article is a little different. Rather than speaking of the latest trends, it provides a view grounded in psychology. In short, rather than being a cult of the past, nostalgia has more to do with creating mental fortitude, countering loneliness, and providing a source of hope for the future. Brands that understand this “existential component” of nostalgia, use it as a tool to excite the audience and energise their sense of connection.

🌠 Nostalgia has turned bittersweet

Rather than simply finding past fashions, items and behaviours fascinating, social trends have taken a turn to emotions reminiscent of the Lost Generation writer canon. The recent trend, called yearnposting, is a good example of this. As Dazed writes, “there seems to be an unshakeable sense that something has been stolen from us”. Despite the underlining sense of disappointment, yearnposting is not about bringing negative emotions to the surface. By highlighting what we yearn for, we are not only telling ourselves what we miss from the past, but we are also carving out a moment to luxuriate in and craft what we would like our future to be like.

🍻 Nostalgia invites participation

This Chilean beer ad has gone viral 20 years after its release. Realising that people got used to TV ad format which led to decreased effectiveness, Cerveza Cristal decided to insert the ad into the TV content instead. It was not just any programme! The product was edited into the Star Wars movies at the time when they were in their peak popularity. The clips seem somewhat amateur to a modern eye, but the transition is spotless, which allowed the ad to have the desired effect and win a Cannes Lion too.

Fast forward to now, video editing tools are accessible to everyone, and the newly trending ad has received ample audience collaboration. Even the Late Show with Stephen Colbert picked up the story and decided to play with the format. What may have appeared as a tacky way to push the product, has aged well, providing consumers an opportunity to interact with the past. Since nostalgia hardly goes out of date, a good ad can become a timeless one and be re-discovered in the future.

💡What brands can learn from this

It boils down to one thing – in tough times, it pays to be a source of hope, no matter how mundane. As nostalgia is best shared, it works well when brands use that hope to reinforce stronger social relationships.

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