Licensing Nostalgia

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Advertising is no stranger to nostalgia driven marketing with sentimental ads resonating particularly well with millennial audiences.  Harnessing the power of your audience’s favourite childhood memories may not deliver the culture changing, society sit up campaign that every creative dreams of making, but damn are they effective.

Brands  reviving positive memories and beloved icons from the past not only make us smile but they drive results. The 2013 battle of the consoles between PS4 and Xbox One saw Sony eschew generic gaming advertising and produce a genuine emotional hook by creating “For the Players Since 1995”. The three-minute film paid homage to the role PlayStation has played to youth culture over the preceding two decades. The approach resulted in 10 million+ film views, over 42 thousand tweets, PlayStation as YouTube’s second biggest brand, and the console outsell Xbox 2 to 1 in the UK.

Halifax’s recent run of classic character driven ads, including Top Cat, the Flintstones and the Thunderbirds, comes off the back of the brand suffering a significant drop in ad and overall awareness scores. By connecting to highly recognisable, well-loved figures, the ads drove impact by humanising a company that sits in a category with low on consumer trust.

Cashing in on nostalgia, entertainment is no stranger to the growing trend either.  Netflix standout, Stranger Things recalls everything millennials loved about the 80s! Pop culture references come thick and fast, with nods to ET, Dungeons & Dragons, Stephen King and Stand By Me, all underscored by a soundtrack you could perm your hair to. 

Box office smash, Guardians of the Galaxy bathed audiences in 80s retro glory. Seems like there’s no better way to connect your audience with a gun-toting raccoon, a talking tree and the fat guy from Parks and Rec than a two-minute monologue on the power of 80s music, Kevin Bacon and Footloose. And it doesn’t stop there; with fan favourite  reboots of Blade Runner, Star Wars, Mary Poppins, a trilogy of Tetris films! The golden age of entertainment is here and it listens to Dario G.

There’s just one problem with nostalgia – someone probably owns it.  

Enter licensing and clearances.  Arconic manufacturing positions itself as a forward thinking, future orientated company. The brands’ position synergized with the Jetsons legacy as a cultural reference point for the future. Greenlight was called to clear all the rights to the iconic cartoon series.   The result - a reimagined world of the Jetsons in a short, live-action commercial.  The ad’s nod to key details from the original cartoon, plus impressive visual effects, saw the ad shared more than 3 thousand times, garner over 5 million views on YouTube, and receive an overwhelmingly positive response.

With digital video content , video ad spend, and new delivery platforms set to increase in the next few years.  Demand for this type of content will only increase as will the complexities to clear and licenses it.  

As content evolves so does its delivery platforms.  Sony Corps PlayStation headset sales recently topped 1 million units. Facebook has committed to bring VR to the masses with Mark Zuckerberg confirming that there have already been 1 million hours of 360 video consumed in Samsung Gear VR.  Disney’s recent recreation of deceased Peter Cushing Star Wars: Rogue One highlighted the advances in CGI technology. 

How long before we see brands recreating nostalgic content to immerse viewers into virtual worlds they know and love? Cruise through Beverly Hills with the cast from Pulp Fiction.  Share a Coke in Al’s Diner while Fonzi saves the day. Next generation technology anchored by recognizable storylines and characters will make for a powerful combination.  

That’s where the power of nostalgia lies.  The ability to deliver a moment of trusted recognition. It can ground a sci-fi blockbuster in reality, highlight a games consoles role as a consistent source of happiness, or promote trust in a bank.   The only limitations?  Your creative and legal license to use it.

- David Rowe is a client development manager at Greenlight
Join Greenlight at Cannes at an exclusive evening at Hotel Le Canberra on Thursday 22nd June!  


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