top of page


Nostalgia and marketing: 6 examples we love

Nostalgia and Marketing: 6 Examples We Love

We’ve all had that moment riding in a car, listening to tunes on the radio when suddenly a song comes on that takes you back in time and makes you smile. It reminds you of a special person, a gorgeous place or perhaps just a cool thing. Music is a strong trigger for nostalgic memories, but can a game evoke those same nostalgic memories? 

Why is nostalgia so powerful? Our talented designers here at Wix, for example, tend to use their childhood memories as inspiration when creating our stunning website templates. Being a kid meant that you didn’t need much to be wowed, and those simple things you had to play with encouraged you to use your imagination and dream big.

This is why we’ve decided to take a journey back in time and look at how some products we used to think were the bomb, came back to the future in a slick and sophisticated marketing package and left us all wanting to be kids again.

Why looking back will take you forward

If you want to create something unique – ahem, like a free website, you have to do your research. Looking back at what others have done before you will not only save you from copying or repeating what’s already been done, it will motivate you to dig deeper and find a way to create the next best thing. Just don't let this trip down memory lane stop you from incorporating sustainable marketing best practices into your strategy.

Our needs change on a daily basis. Case in point? When you got your first cell phone and texting your friends or playing Snake was the highlight of your day. These days if your phone can’t multitask, send pictures, video chat and surf the Internet, there’s practically no point in owning one. Inventing new technologies is based on studying past user experiences and the ability to reinvent the wheel over and over again, while adding newer elements. Research is your key to identifying what worked and what didn’t. Use that information to inspire yourself in thinking of other ways to make your idea universal and timeless.

Without further ado, here are some of the latest products and brands that made a comeback, using our childhood memories (remember 8-bit?) to create a whole new experience that any generation can enjoy. They would also work as part of a wider integrated marketing strategy.

8-bit – Simplicity is the name of the game

The third generation of video games was also referred to as the ‘8-bit era’ and began in the early 80’s. Back then, the Japanese launched this exciting product that allowed people to play these games in their very own homes. Their invention used a two-dimensional bitmap and incorporated independent objects that were composed together to create an engaging game. Some of the games that were invented are still relevant today, such as: Pac-Man, Mario Bros and Donkey Kong.

Games were easy to play and follow: a hero needed to collect stuff and reach a destination. Using only the keyboard to move and jump (space bar!), made that experience amusing and approachable for most ages. Nowadays major brands decide to use the old school 8-bit look and simplicity in order to push their products in a new way, such as:

Old Spice – Youland

The infamous male grooming company is always looking to impress everyone with their unique digital marketing campaigns such as their 8-bit inspired Youland game in which the player is the hero fighting to find their friends through various obstacles. Players could connect via their Facebook profile page and add their own friends to compete against. How fun is that?

Old Spice Youland

DJ Khaled / Champs Sports – Secure the Bag

DJ Khaled is a major social media influencer nowadays, mostly known for providing his “major key” tips for a better lifestyle. Khaled partnered with Champs Sports in order to promote their newest Timberland boot. The decision behind creating this promotion through an 8-bit game was almost expected, as they’re combining a classic brand with a classic game.  The coolest part? When the game ends, the player can choose to play again or head over to buy the shoe. This type of marketing is a genius move.

DJ Khaled and Champs Sports

La La Land

Do you remember who won the 2017 Oscar for best film? La La L… oh wait! No they didn’t.

The idea to create a unique trailer that incorporates the look of an 8-bit game with the functionality of a “quest” game (where you choose what the hero would do through a series of multiple choices options). This could have been a fantastic move, however, they fell a bit short when they introduced this promotion as a video and not as an interactive game like the other brands previously mentioned.


Pokemon Go – bringing back the past to change the present

Originally launched in Japan in the early 90’s as video games, Pokemon later branched out across many different outlets such as card games, an animated television show, comic books and toys. Throughout the years, this brand kept reinventing itself for the needs of the current gaming industry and kept in mind the importance of social interaction in a world full of endless screens.

Their first social phenomenon was the card game of the late 90’s. These cards were a brilliant move during those days when video games became accessible to all, and the challenge to get kids outside was almost impossible. The game encouraged kids around the globe to gather in small groups and exchange different cards. Cut to the late 2000’s where everyone and their grandmothers own a cellphone. Smart phones have kept reinventing themselves, creating quite a segregated community worldwide, and making it one of our primary forms of interaction with the outside world.

The latest invention? Pokemon Go. The game uses elements from the original game, like the lovable characters and the concept of locating them. But this time they’ve thrown in a major social twist; you actually have to step outside and search for them on the streets from your mobile phone.“Get Up and Go” is their promotional catchphrase, implementing both the craze of the smartphones and shifting back to a time where players explored what the world had to offer.

Pokemon Go

NOKIA 3310 – When effortless counts as quality

Do you remember when your mom got you that brick-like phone that had a small screen and you were able to text your friends and play Snake? Those were the days when charging your phone was just an option. Nowadays we call it a “smartphone” as it can do everything you could imagine and more, that is depending on how long the battery lasts ;). 

Today’s market is saturated with different smartphones, and the more complicated they get, the more fragile they become (some can even explode in your hands – yikes!). Seems like they’re adding features most of us don’t use, let alone understand.

Nokia decided to bring back their beloved phone and gave it a slight makeover. Not quite a smartphone, but not totally old-school like it’s 1999. It’s sure to be a hit among hipsters and technophobes who like the retro and uncomplicated feel that this phone has to offer. Nokia wisely uses the nostalgic trigger in this case, allowing us go back to a time where we felt life was much easier. The benefits of this classic includes: 

  • Being a brick that can’t break

  • Having a battery that lasts forever (and ever)

  • Costing less than the competitors

  • It has Snake (!!!!)

Nokia took a big risk by bringing an old product back that has basically the same functions it used to have, yet they nailed it by marketing it in a new and a fresh way. This phone is made for all those folks who want to take a step back and enjoy their surroundings, rather than living their lives through an app.

Bonus Brand

Lego was launched back in 1949 when they first introduced their interlocking toy bricks. What makes them stand out in the crowd of toys is that no matter your gender, you’ve probably played it. Lego made it to our bonus round, for the prime reason that it has evolved throughout the years and branded itself across many horizons such as: video games, board games, films & TV, books and a chain of epic theme parks known as Legoland. Just from looking at their website, you realize that they’re one of the most current brands out there. Take a look for yourself

In order to become a power brand, you need to be in a constant battle against the future and you have to remain current, even when it’s not “cool” anymore. But even in a world that keeps on evolving and changing, you need keep in mind that what used to be hip, might just come back around and be totally lit.

Was this article helpful?

bottom of page