Choose Nostalgia

By Amy Allen - Brands Assistant 

Is the use of nostalgia successful for brands and why?

Brands are constantly using their campaigns to stimulate emotion, whether it be through feminism, romance, music or a million other things. Most recently, the use of nostalgia is on the increase and has proven to be a successful tactic as brands tap into the longing memories of the public and make them smile.

As a PR agency who takes pride in staying ahead of the shifts in audience engagement, it is imperative for us to understand how we incorporate these tactics into our campaign strategies. Research from Tokyo Metropolitan University reported that the brain areas involved in both memory and reward coordinate to create a feeling that ultimately leaves us more hopeful and revitalized, because our minds fill with a longing for the past.

Let’s take a look at Nokia, one of the most recent brands who has used nostalgia to press our emotions by bringing back their classic 3310 and successfully propelling a new interest to the brand by using a nostalgic device. Nokia has tactically used festival season to promote the relaunch of a nostalgic device into a highly commercial and technologically advanced world. By selling this phone to press as ‘the festival phone of choice’ Nokia has managed to not only resurrect the product but also make it relevant again.

This year we also saw the return of Danny Boyle’s Trainspotting, two decades after its original in the form of the 2017 sequel T2. It soon became one of the strongest design-led campaigns and was easily considered as iconic as the original, relying heavily on a nostalgic hungry audience to spark a national conversation. The integrated strategy involved adding modern words to the memo and reusing the old poster - instantly reconnecting fans to the sequel through ads as if they had turned back time. Not to mention the different angles T2 used to make it a talking point in the news. People love to compare the old with the new and TimeOut showcased this nostalgic approach of ‘them then and them now’ to create portraits of the cast 20 years later. A powerful editorial which complemented the marketing and advertising strategies to draw the fans even closer.

However, Nostalgia is hardly a secret as many brands have previously fuelled themselves with yesterday’s art, even if that meant creating it through a current brand. Thanks to Kiss FM I no longer have to wait until 11am on a Saturday to listen to the forgotten classics. From a brand’s perspective, it is interesting to see how they have used the positive response from their audience to expand this area of the station into it’s own brand. From creating a 24 hour Kisstory app to hosting club nights at the O2, Kiss FM is a prime example of how a brand has catered the needs of a sentimental audience.

With so many different ways to engage with Kiss FM, it is no surprise that they are also succeeding on social media. They have utilised social media to create a juxtaposition between their nostalgic division and current technological developments such as Facebook to amplify engagement.


Whilst nostalgia proves to be a successful strategy for audience engagement, brands must also be mindful about getting caught up in the past. To avoid this danger, brands should monitor the timing of their nostalgic campaign as it’s critical that it remains relevant to their audience.