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In the 1970s, movies and television shows about the 1950s gained popularity. When I was in elementary school, I remember the popularity of theme parties. People loved to dress up as hippies from the 60s. By the time I reached high school and college, it was all the rave to dress up in 80s clothing or watch shows about people from the 1970s. And when the 2000s came around, the 90s were suddenly in again.

What gives with all the old stuff? Do we have an obsession with time travel? Why is it that the present gets to be cooler in the future than it is now?

Nostalgia, says marketing-focused neuroscientist Martin Lindstrom. As time goes on, events appear to be 35% better. In addition, one study showed that 3 out of every 4 people experience nostalgia on a weekly basis.

This isn’t just an occasional feeling we’re talking about. This is the norm.

And some brands are taking notice of it, too. Disney uses a vast array of characters (including the great Mickey Mouse) to tug at the heart strings of consumers from toddler age to adulthood. Coca Cola constantly reminds people of the “good old days” with its contour bottle outline. And The Muppets have remained a staple of US pop culture by maintaining the same strong characters for years, including the world’s most popular frog.

Most recently, General Mills decided to bring back the Jolly Green Giant for its most recent campaign, setting up a Facebook page for the Giant and driving fans to a Facebook page where they can interact with him.

Is the giant popular enough to remind people what it was like “back in the good old days” when the character was everyone on TV? Hard to say.

But General Mills’ strategy clearly plays on a central human emotion that can serve as a very powerful force on behalf of the brand.

Will the General Mills Jolly Green Giant campaign work? Let us know what you think in the comments. And to figure out how you can use nostalgia to grown your own brand, contact us at ideas@brightboxonline.com.