Brand revival and the art of nostalgia


Is it unusual that companies in recent years have started to roll out older brands that have for some reason been scrapped, or ‘parked’?

Well not really, there is apparently a hark back to the past in times of austerity or harder days, for some reason people look back to the ‘good ol’ days’ for that feeling of well being. While at the same time, companies are looking for newer cost saving products to launch into the market, having to fork out less marketing spend whilst targeting the nostalgic purchaser, plus lots of potential free PR! why wouldn’t you?

I wonder what would happen if penguin started selling classic books printed and produced from a press from the 50s?, ok right now with the mass growth of Ebooks it’s possibly the wrong time, but in 5 years time I wonder if people will start to tap into that nostalgia buzz? Restaurants have been relying on this from the earliest of times, it’s called atmosphere, people like to dine in elegant and beautiful locations, take for example Les Trois Garçons, a rather special restaurant in East London that manages to mix nostalgia, with art, abstract connections and even the grotesque. Somehow it works, for some reason people love to reflect and wonder. I have even found it mixed in office environments, where offices start to build spaces with interesting antique furniture, bringing together the past with the present.

I do really enjoy moments of nostalgia, it’s a strange feeling, bringing back feelings from yesteryear, reflective, retrospective imagination, theres something in there somewhere, and maybe there should be some new and really exciting brand revivals that work really well in this arena.

Lets think of some brand revivals in recent years shall we – the Fiat 500, the VW Beatle, the Mini, Triumph motorbikes, the Chopper bike, the Whisper chocolate bar, Golden Nougat cereal, Air Jordan, Converse, Biba fashion house, Puma and Adidas trainers, Arctic Roll!, the list goes on, and all have some feel of nostalgia, or at least something magical that people connected with in the past.

As is I mention above, I am a bit of a lover of nostalgia, in fact over the years I have collected vintage packaging, from the Tufty Club government safety awareness campaign (something for the older UK reader), to Airfiix, to Prince Albert cigaret papers, to Matchbox, and some other less known brands. Personally though, although I love many of these revivals, and many have managed to connect the past with the future, certainly when it comes to engineering. I do wonder what it would be like if someone was brave enough to bring back a product from the past and use the same visual brand approach to shelf based packaging that it started with back in their ‘hay day’. There are some cereal based brands that do this ‘ok’, or at least get close, although I do wonder if they miss the mark a little, I’m referring to say something like Scots Porridge Oats – close, but could be better I think.

I sometimes also wonder if cinema has missed a potential opportunity, after-all, if your over 30 you only have to hear the Pearl & Deal soundtrack to get those memories flooding back! Imagine if we went back to making cinema a ‘night out’, having the interval, people selling ice cream, the whole atmosphere of the traditional ‘great night’ of cinema – where has that gone?

And finally, do people remember the following brands – Clackers, Wantney’s Party Seven, Ford Capri, Action man (yes, still around I know), Pearl & Dean, Top of the Pops?

So… what brands do you miss, what would you bring back?, why? and how would you do it?

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