Industry News

Nostalgia is Trending and Brands & Marketers Should Take Note

The Mobile World Congress 2017 is now one of the most significant events for brands and marketers in the calendar: where the latest in mobile technology is unveiled providing an invaluable glimpse into how consumer behavior is likely to change over the coming months.  As this device is now the single most important determinant of consumer behavior globally, how people adopt & use the technology made available through mobile will undoubtedly shape the marketing plans, app developments, brand risk & opportunities for the coming months.  As a brand, being relevant & earning attention on the mobile of your target audience has never been more critical to success.

So I just love the fact that the headline story from MWC 2017 so far has not been the flexible phone screen and how that will change content consumption on mobile, or indeed new 4K screens or a return to longer battery life in sleek new top of the range smartphones – no – the headline is that the epic, indestructible mobile phone of my teenage years, the Nokia 3310 has had an upgrade!  This is a major win for nostalgia, not technology advancement.

As marketers and brands today, we constantly speak about trying to solve the challenge of the digital native & the speed of technology advancement; ´they are on multiple devices at any one time´; ´we are in an attention scarce economy´;  ´we are dealing with aggressive technology adopters who value what´s new´; ´they expect instant gratification, authenticity & personalization´, etc.  Unfortunately, these statements haven´t become less true, but what the Nokia 3310 so effectively reminds us of, is that tapping into a powerful emotion, such as nostalgia, has the potential to cut through more than any rational message could. 

It ties directly into some of the most common debates in our industry at the moment – brand vs performance, machines vs humans – and what this highlights again is that there is no substitute for something that makes you feel something.  It reminds me of that brilliant scene in Mad Men - Kodak, the Carousel – which if you haven´t watched I recommend you head to YouTube for a very enjoyable 3 minutes 23 seconds of viewing.  Stranger Things on Netflix is another fantastic example of bringing nostalgia brilliantly through in the modern day; ET merged with X-files, you just can´t beat that!

Now of course I´m not saying that the Nokia 3310 is going to replace your smartphone (and in fact, we have no idea yet how much of a success it will be given it´s only due to be available sometime in Q2), but what I am saying is that I know it does not even have Wifi or 3G, let alone 4G, but it has SNAKE (!), so I´m buying one!  And I would put some money on the fact that I am far from the only one.

I´m also not saying that we should stop what we´re doing, ignore technology advancement and just focus on producing a campaign that creates nostalgic sentiment; far from it.   But at a time when it´s so easy to be caught up in the race to keep up with what´s new, it´s a refreshing reminder that the people we are trying to communicate with, sometimes value a reason to step out of the race too.  As brands and as marketers, it should encourage us to continue to strive for a method & means of communicating beyond just what´s possible, but for what´s meaningful to our audience.