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Finding Event Success in Nostalgia Marketing

Lauren Mumford |

GettyImages-636309902When planners think about how to make their events memorable, they often think of using the latest and greatest technology to bring on the wow factor. However, many event marketers today are bringing back elements from the past to invoke the powerful feeling of nostalgia.

That's right - it seems that consumers get giddy when reminded of a tv show, musical artist, food or style from their 70s, 80s or 90s childhood, and it may result in increased revenue for these brands. According to a new study in the Journal of Consumer Research, we’re more likely to spend money when we’re feeling nostalgic.

Why is nostalgia marketing so powerful? According to this article, "through our selective memories, nostalgia tends to bring happy recollections along with psychological benefits that can boost your mood and self-esteem, increase your feeling of social connectedness and give you a more positive feeling about the future."

This is why nostalgia marketing is perfect for events, which are, after all, meant to bring people together. When done right, bringing in an element from the past can be the ideal conversation starter, can become an Instagrammable moment and will overall leave your attendees feeling happy.

Examples of Nostalgia Marketing

If you Google "nostalgia marketing," there are endless outstanding examples to be inspired by! Here are just a few cool ones:

  • Luke's Diner Pop-Ups: As a Gilmore Girls fan, I may be biased with this one, but there's no denying that the show's 2016 Netflix revival after being canceled in the mid-2000s was huge news. To promote the new series, Netflix sponsored one-day pop-ups of the show’s famed Luke’s Diner at about 200 coffee shops and cafes across the United States, complete with free coffee, custom coffee sleeves, inspired décor from the show and more.
  • Stranger Things' Online Success: While pop-ups are probably the most common method of implementing nostalgia marketing, it can also be brought on through online experiences. Stranger Things has been lauded for bringing back 80s goodness, and along with successful social media campaigns, the show also created a Lightbulb Message Maker and a text creator that allows you to put text in the Stranger Things retro font.
  • Pepsi's 2018 Global Campaign: Food or beverage companies often rerelease old products or packaging, but Pepsi is taking things to the next level as it celebrates "marking its history in pop culture for 120 years." With this year's Pepsi Generations campaign, the company will air commercials, host pop-ups, introduce retro packaging and bring back Pepsi Stuff (a loyalty program from the 90s) to celebrate the best moments of Pepsi's past.
  • Nintendo's Pokemon Go App: When I say the Aventri office was obsessed with the Pokemon Go app a couple years ago, that's not an exaggeration. This gaming app is often credited for its use of AR/VR as users physically walk around in the real word to catch Pokemon, but nearly every child of the 90s in our office was thrilled with its release as it brought back memories of one of our favorite childhood TV shows and games.

Tips for Planners

Overall, the goal is to have fun here! If you think there is an excellent opportunity for a throwback at your next event, consider these tips:

  • Find the right time: Deciding to go retro when it doesn't make sense won't do you any favors. An event or brand's anniversary, for example, is the perfect time to consider nostalgia marketing. But other elements like your event's location, theme or message can also make for ideal tie-ins.
  • Look at your demographics: Do you go 80s or 90s? Something even older or more recent? Take a look at your attendees, their age, maybe where they are from or other vital demographics to decide exactly what nostalgic element will get them excited.
  • Consider pop-ups, along with other marketing tactics: As I mentioned above, pop-ups are great, but they're not the only option. Maybe it's an art installation, an attendee lounge, cocktail party theme or even something as simple as graphic elements, a hashtag or an email marketing campaign. Nostalgia marketing doesn't have to be expensive!
  • Go big or go home: The number one tip from my research is that authenticity is critical for nostalgia marketing, especially since often time periods blend together. Do your research for every detail from graphics and fonts to design and style. Going the extra mile and including small details will help make your nostalgia efforts go a long way.
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This Post was Written by Lauren Mumford

Lauren Mumford has worked at Aventri since 2015 as a content marketing associate. She manages the Aventri blog, social media promotion, the bi-weekly company newsletter, and many other content-related projects. Prior to Aventri, Lauren was in the...

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