Retro Marketing and Nostalgia Part 2: Movies, Music, and Ads
In the first part of this blog post, Retro Marketing and Nostalgia Part 1: Video Games, I talked about Retro Marketing (Flashback Branding) and how it has made its way into the public sector once again. Now it’s time to continue that conversation and mention the Retro Marketing that’s going on in our popular films, music, and advertisements!
The recent influx of comic-to-film adaptations is simply staggering.
What’s nostalgic about the movie business? Well, we’re definitely seeing a resurgence of the classic superhero. That kind of goes without saying. Whether it’s Batman or Superman or Aquaman or whoever, the infatuation we seem to have with on-screen heroes these days certainly resembles a type of retro-obsession. The recent influx of comic-to-film adaptations is simply staggering. While their popularity is due partly to their reliance on “wow”-inducing special effects, it’s due more directly to the emotional undercurrent of the stories. On-screen superheroes (particularly those adapted from graphic novels and comics) represent both our aspirations and our shortcomings. Fictional heroes and villains cater to our understanding of what happens when the human ego goes unchecked. Thanks to our superheroes, we learn as kids what the consequences are for our actions and how the world can be a better place if our endeavors serve the greater good.
Which is crap, of course! That’s why we need those movies. We need to believe in their lie—if we want to stay optimistic, that is. And we contribute generously to their $100-million box-office revenue on opening weekend. Such is the extent of our fondness for nostalgia!
Modern rock bands like The Killers borrow the sonic qualities of their retro-influences.
It’s kind-of similar with music. There are plenty of bands around these days whose sound could easily be described as “retro,” in that their approach to songwriting calls to mind the styles and movements of earlier eras. Over the past decade or so, modern rock has seen quite an influx of bands that borrow the sonic qualities of their influences. Artists like The Killers, The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Franz Ferdinand, and Jet—to name only a few—have managed to gain a significant following in recent years, and their success is usually attributed to the revivalist spirit of their music. Even though they’re likely influenced by an array of musical styles, their sound owes much of its signature to the post-punk and new wave artists of the late ‘70s and ‘80s: Joy Division, New Order, The Psychedelic Furs, The Cure, Echo & The Bunnymen, and the like. I for one am admittedly pleased to see the legacy of these latter artists live on in the arena of modern music.
They say “imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.” Well, then we’re definitely flattering the hell out of previous generations, because our obsession with the styles and trends of the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s is somewhat obvious. Still, our modern repackaging of vintage themes boasts a certain amount of innovation on our part.
Nostalgic for old-time dialing? There's an app for that!
There are actually iPhone apps available now that convert the layout of the on-screen number pad to rotary-phone style—which, in my opinion, is equal parts baffling and intriguing. Rotary layout is inherently cumbersome by today’s standards, but I’d probably download it in a heartbeat if I owned an iPhone. Also curious is the geekishly fun approach to advertising that imposes retro aesthetics on modern products and brands. Check out these mockup print advertisements developed by an ad agency in San Paolo if you’re curious to know what ads for Facebook, YouTube and Skype would have looked like if such networks were around in the ‘50s. Space-age stuff, lemme tell ‘ya!
So, I guess this concludes my overview of Retro Marketing. I could bring up several other examples, but I’m sure you get the point. In my eyes, our retro-obsession is nothing but a good thing. I love that the entertainment world has taken it upon itself to revisit some of the classic traditions, trends, and themes that so many of us grew up with.
What are your thoughts on nostalgia? Sure, it’s a great selling point, but at the same time it’s something so much more! Right?
Or am I just being sentimental about all this?