How effective is nostalgia as a marketing strategy?
By Ronita Mukerjee
Cadbury Dairy Milk recently launched a brand new TVC that made India pause, smile, and reflect. What is interesting is that the TVC is not really new. Rather, it’s a fresh take on a nearly 30-year-old piece of advertisement.
What made the TVC so engaging?
The original Cadbury advertisement broke barriers in the ’90s. And nearly thirty years later, it was that very vibrant spirit of change that helped Cadbury Dairy Milk strike a chord with consumers once again. The obvious nod to the shift in gender roles was heartening; however, there are a few more tweaks that made the nostalgia strategy shine.
Keeping it real
In the original ad, the Cadbury girl and her partner looked like they were straight out of a fashion catalogue. Do you remember the Cadbury girl’s long and glossy hair, and the cricketer’s perfect smile?
Cut to 2021, and we have beautiful Kavya Ramchandran, the cricketer who wore her dark hair and honey skin tone with so much grace and confidence. And the Cadbury boy was just adorable — from his clothes to his looks, he was “everyday real”. Real, yet aspirational. This is very reflective of shifts we are seeing in notions around beauty, and the emphasis consumers are placing on being inclusive, real and authentic.
There is also a lot to be said about the current “pandemic times” that we are living through that makes nostalgia a powerful theme when executed correctly. As the Covid generation, we are craving the comfort of the past, a time when we were more in control.
Will this advertisement lead to a surge in sales? Too early to tell. However, the brand has brilliantly managed to balance its legacy status with modern relevance. It has reminded everyone of the original and mighty Cadbury Dairy Milk.
Reliving old times
Paper Boat is the poster child of a brand born out of nostalgia. Their very promise is serving old favourite flavours in new and convenient avatars. It appeals to everyone who longs for simpler times from their childhood.
Last year, the F&B and OTC space exploded with new brands that offered traditional wisdom for health and immunity. For people who are pill averse, “packaged kitchen remedies” and ayurvedic solutions were comforting and assuring, all at the same time.
The personal care space also leverages nostalgia very effectively. Parachute hair oil made the age-old ‘champi’ cool again with a new narrative — you need a good head massage to tackle the highs and lows of everyday modern life. With consumers wanting to go back to their roots, nostalgia is a rich platform for not just TVCs, but product innovation, packaging and product experience.
Nostalgia also works well if a brand wants to cue natural goodness. Dairy brands often depict barns and farms to convey unadulterated quality. However, nostalgia is tricky territory and it doesn’t always lead to success.
If leveraged incorrectly, it can make you appear old school and irrelevant. When the Onida Devil made a comeback, consumers had mixed reactions. The context of ‘neighbour’s envy’, as is, perhaps, was not as valid.
Nostalgia is a tempting marketing strategy. Everyone loves a trip down memory lane. How do we ensure nostalgia inspires more than a smile? Ask yourself if nostalgia aligns with your ambition for the brand. What is nostalgia doing for your brand equity? Are consumers going to see you in a new and favourable light? Will it infuse new equities for your brand?
To summarise, nostalgia cannot stand on its own. There has to be a clear connection with your brand purpose and attributes. And, finally, there needs to be a relevant consumer and cultural context.
The author is executive director, client services, Landor & Fitch