Staff Writer
News Bites, Brand Strategy
Benoit Wiesser on Why Nostalgia Can Work for Brands

For brands and advertisers, playing on feelings of nostalgia isn’t new.

It’s one element of a wider marketing strategy that looks to entice consumers through escapism.

“In particular, going back to the very idealised associations of your childhood,” says Ogilvy’s Chief Strategy Officer for Asia Benoit Wiesser.

He says memories of our formative years – the music, fashion, toys and games – are encoded in our brains for life as a store of happy feelings.

So playing with a Nintendo Gameboy or a Transformer triggers these fond associations and gets “the chemistry flowing again”.

“The moment you pick it up, it comes loaded with all this richness and association and this feel-good factor,” Mr Wiesser says.

He says nostalgia may be “something that’s more salient” right now, in part driven by a questioning attitude adopted by many millennials and those in generation Z.

“There isn’t necessarily one belief system about how we move forward from here.”

That uncertainty can help create an environment for nostalgic themes to resonate, as it is a particularly effective strategy when people feel uncertain and need reassurance.

“There’s definitely a correlation between the popularity of nostalgia marketing versus how confident, optimistic and secure a particular population feels,” Mr Wiesser adds.

Still, brands can’t just stay still. Mr Wiesser says companies have to keep reinventing themselves with fresh products as trading on past glories won’t be enough.

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