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2012: The Year of Inverse Retro-Futurism
By: Jennifer Stack
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Is everything old new again? Certainly that is the case in some industries, primarily the fashion and the art verticals, but what about other arenas? Lately I’ve come across quite a few nostalgic throwbacks online, from Instagram’s obvious Polaroid inspiration and vintage filters to Pinterest’s homage to the original pin board to the latest tech innovation sweeping the digital blogs: The Descriptive Camera,” birthed by Matt Richardson. This little gadget is a webcam and printer that produces “text descriptions” upon seeing a visual in an ode to the Mad Men-era of typists and telegrams.

What does this mean for the digital set moving forward? More and more emerging technologies have implemented sentimental extensions to their services and products. Siri has been jokingly nicknamed the modern-day operator, finding numbers and placing calls at your request. YUBZ Retro handset allows nostalgic smartphone addicts the ability to live in the past by attaching a rotary phone handpiece to their iPhones for the ultimate throwback. Or this retro cassette MP3 player? The pinnacle of this technological homage to the past has to be the most recent announcement that the Titanic will be re-envisioned with the latest and greatest hardware and sailed across its predecessor’s voyage.

It appears that the more extensively technology evolves and the greater the digital evolution’s reach is ingrained in everyone’s lives, the more kickback emerges in the form of consumerism. This wistful sentimentality is a direct result of the constant change that accompanies rapid digital advancement, and it should be recognized as a capitalistic opportunity for marketers and their brands. This is the beginning of the consumer movement of modernized Retro-Futurism, best summarized asa trend in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced prior to about 1960.”

This concept is materializing in an inverse mode, as we are now in the “future” but continuously reverting design elements to decades ago as if their structure provides added value from their sentimental benefit. Marketers should adapt their brands to fit consumers' new demands for products that appease their sense of longing for the past, even if it was only their past by association (via grandparents or iconic pop culture).


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About the Author
Jennifer Stack is a Social Media Strategist at a digital advertising agency. She was a 2011 Notable.ca YP Social Media Finalist. International Marketing Communication, MA. International Marketing Strategy, MSc. LinkedIn + Twitter.
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