Nostalgia Sells


Recently I had the pleasure of attending a screening of “IT”, the remake of the 1990 made for television mini-series which was itself adapted from Stephen Kings horror opus about a killer clown that feeds on children. No really.

The originals, first half, if you will, was set in 1960 (as opposed to the novels 57-58 setting) and saw a group of outsider children square up against the monster terrorising their small town lives during school vacation. It was all white picket fences and crewcuts and pompadour hairdos. Why? Well, it’s simple really. Stephen King himself grew up around this particular time. The ‘50s are to him, what the ‘80s are to a lot of us and so it is a decade, which he has referenced quite a bit in his work.

The fact of the matter is that nostalgia sells. Unless you’ve been living under a rock you will have noticed the huge nostalgia hype particularly regarding the ‘80s and early ‘90’s. Everything from toys and action figures, to video games, movies and collectables. Vintage and retro is hot right now.

Nostalgia is also a strange and powerful thing. It invokes memory and emotion, obviously usually on the positive side. It is a link to earlier, perhaps arguably better memories that some just can’t let go of. Hence, it makes perfect sense that nostalgia could be regarded as a marketing weapon, a blade if you will, so sharp that quite often it even cuts out the marketing middleman.

Let’s not forget it was not some marketing hotshot that invented this wave of retrospection. It was not a Hollywood exec that sparked the initial flame. Nope. It was we, the consumers. We created a consumer movement. It was us who lit the match and it is us who now bathe in the comforting warmth that our nostalgic fire gives us. Sure there are others who add fuel to the fire, like Hollywood, TV networks and the like, but we were the instigators. Those who lived and loved the ‘80s and its products first hand birthed this movement. It continues to grow because of us, because we buy the retro video games, because we remember those toys, because we share our finds and passions on youtube and social media, because we desire to have that movie that we loved so much, on the actual medium that we watched it on in the first place, i.e. good old vhs.

Take the remake of “IT”, which has been conveniently reshuffled to an ‘80s setting. Normally I would scoff at such a blatant bigwig attempt at stalking a cash cow but in this instance, I can’t, not really. Yes, it has a definite ‘80s nostalgic feel to it and it references ‘80s pop culture from time to time both directly and indirectly. For example, the towns movie theatre is playing Tim Burtons “Batman” and “Lethal Weapon 2” at the start of the movie just as the kids have finished school for Summer, movies whose sense of adventure and fun could and should be telegraphing an entire summer vacation worth of fun for a group of children. Later on, however, it’s playing “A nightmare on elm street part 5” in the midst of their battle with the demon who feeds on children. Quite apt I’m sure you’ll agree and it’s this type of pop culture cross-referencing that lifts the movie above other reference regurgitation fare.

I digress. The point I was trying to make is that nostalgia sells. Generation X who grew up with Lion-O and Optimus Prime as hero figures are now accountants and lawyers, or work in construction or web design and have the expendable cash to lay down on items from their childhood. Movie and marketing execs know this all too well and so we get “Wreck it Ralph”, “Pixels”, “Stranger Things”, an ‘80s set “IT” and the upcoming “Ready Player One” etc.

Web Design and Nostalgia?

What has all this got to do with digital services or web design in particular I hear you ask? Well, not an awful lot really, not directly in any case, but I got you to visit our web design business site to read this particular blog post because of the title and thumbnail alone, didn’t I? If you did, then I thank you. Don’t feel angry or cheated. It’s just that we possess similar thinking or at the very least a taste for similar things. We are merely slaves to our happy childhoods and if we can pepper our adult lives with some of that joy ad-infinitum we experienced back then, then I say why not? If that makes us better people, then why not? If it in some way betters our day or our profession, I say go for it? So, you see we too can use such a thing as nostalgia for our own benefit just like so many hotshot execs are doing, and we have as much or even more of a right to do so because this is our movement and we can use it to our advantage if we so wish. Powerful, isn’t it?