Blast From the Past: Using Nostalgia Marketing to Your Advantage

September 15, 2016

Nostalgia is a powerful tool for marketing. Bringing something back to the past for a limited time reminds a customer of a prior experience and due to its limited release or uncommon theme, creates a demand for that product. Nostalgia marketing is done by tapping into positive cultural memories from the past. The happier days that the nostalgia brings up can be connected to your brand to create a positive connotation since people are familiar and welcome to accepting things that have already occurred. Buffer has previously written about how emotions affect marketing, including the ways that happiness encourages people to share with other people – exactly what you’ll need to help grow your business!

Lessons in Nostalgia Marketing

One of the major effects of using nostalgia is to humanize a brand. Who are you behind your logo? It creates a value for the company’s personality and connects modernity with what someone else knows.

Big brands use nostalgia in a number of different ways, but it’s interesting to consider how each of these plays into larger opportunities.

Paramount Movies:

  • Engaging fans on Twitter after a 90’s-themed hashtag emerged

Paramount Nostalgia

Mars, Inc.

  • “Crispy is Back” campaign brought back attention to the now-defunct product Crispy M&M’s, appealing to candy lovers that missed this treat and were looking forward to its revival, and younger audiences that didn’t remember Crispy M&M’s at all

Throwback marketing campaign by Mars Inc.

Pokemon Go

  • Taking the game of a generation’s childhood and updating it to be accessible on mobile devices, not requiring new products in order to participate

Pokemon Go Nostalgia Marketing


  • Writing tons of articles bringing attention to old toys, television shows, bands, movies, and more that causes people to click through, read, and share

Example of Buzzfeed using nostalgia


  • Launched a 2014 Super Bowl ad campaign poking fun at their inability to get with the times by using numerous 80’s icons within the ad

Radio Shack 2014 Super Bowl Commerical


  • Relaunched beverages that haven’t been seen in some time, such as Surge, for a limited time to engage past soda-lovers

Image of Surge soda

Pepsi Co.

  • Have you been to the store and seen Mountain Dew and Pepsi in bottles with new labels? These “throwback” bottles are shown with the retro packaging and labels, as well as the presence of real cane sugar, a sweetener that’s been absent from the soda since the 1980’s.

Old Cans of Pepsi


  • Using retired logo and jersey designs that become collector’s items for fans of the brand. For example, releasing an “old” pair of Jordans made new gives their customers a reason to await the next release and purchase as soon as these come out.

Image of Retro Jordans

Reading Rainbow

  • Remember the old television show hosted by LeVar Burton? In May 2014, Burton raised over $1 million on Kickstarter to bring back the show

LeVar Burton Reading Rainbow Promotion

Arcade Fire

  • Their 2010 music video used interactive nostalgia to drive viewers. For this, a user would visit their website, enter in their childhood address, and the video appears to be customized to the viewer’s hometown, bringing up childhood memories.

Arcade Fire

Importantly, each of these brands understood who their target audience was when creating these campaigns. There are cultural references and end goals that will vary depending on the population of people that experienced it for the first time. For example, a Twitter hashtag may not work well when trying to engage older audiences seeking a reminder of 1950’s Americana, just like bringing up movies of the 80’s will be less likely to resonate with those born in 1995 or later.


  1. Don’t be afraid to lend your voice and personality to hashtags and trending topics
  2. Bringing back a product for a limited-time encourages buyers that miss it, or never got a chance to purchase the first time around while creating demand
  3. Cross-collaboration is essential when using nostalgia. Melding new technology with an older sense of feeling can be powerful!
  4. Genuine appreciation of a product can lie at the heart of nostalgia, and may mean that it’s time for a product to return. Take this to heart!
  5. Did you grow up during a certain time and see a relationship between then and now? Think of how you can apply this to your business for a special or promotion.
  6. Using current events can be a great starting point for nostalgia. Consider the first day of school, or the holiday season. What about this do you hold dear, and how can you use this?
  7. Try to use dual-nostalgia. The first day of school example from above can appeal to younger generations remembering their first day of school and parents missing their early years of parenthood.

Nostalgia is simply another tool in the arsenal of small business marketing opportunities. Once you have your logo and branding bundle from Tailor Brands, you’re just getting started on your journey.