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Nostalgia Wins in Advertising
By: Dwayne W. Waite Jr.
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Advertising, regardless of the amount of data poured into the industry, works best when emotion is involved. Whether it's humor, a slice of life spot, or even fear-mongering, advertising with strong emotional appeals moves consumers to act more than advertising driven by facts, figures, and analysis.

And it makes sense. Humans are visual, emotional beings. Regardless of how hard we try, the majority of us will listen to what our hearts say versus our brains. The marketing community has known that for decades.

But it helps to have data to prove it. Science Daily covered a study that suggested consumers who were told to think or write about some nostalgic event in their lives were more likely to purchase a pricier item that reminded them of that experience than consumers who weren't given a chance to form nostalgic memories.

Again, that makes sense. Think of the past Coca-Cola commercials. The brand has done an amazing job putting itself in the memories of thousands of people. People think of Coca-Cola in the summertime during cookouts, or during the winter at Christmas, or during the Super Bowl waiting for its polar bear commercials, or using it for the first time they mixed it with an adult beverage. The nostalgia is there, and Coke dramatically increased its brand equity using the tactic.

Some negative nancies out there will say that marketing that uses nostalgia is brainwashing and manipulating consumers to buy stuff that they don't need. We are quite tired of the "blame the advertiser" game. Look, the study shows that creating a nostalgic atmosphere can promote a favorable buying spirit for the consumer. It doesn't mean that the consumer is forcibly taken to the checkout aisle, or forced to click "purchase" online before they change their minds.

Actually, when it comes to memories — and feel free to do your own research — many of our memories are quite different than what really happened. Yes, our brains can create false memories by filling in blanks with other stories or things we see around us. 

In any case, for marketers, the point is that one can create a good experience when the nostalgia of an event is brought up before a purchase. For the consumer, think twice about the memory, and make sure it's right.

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About the Author
Dwayne W. Waite Jr. is partner and principal at JDW: The Charlotte Agency, a marketing and advertising shop in Charlotte, NC. He enjoys consumer behavior, economics, and football.
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