Take me back: The power of nostalgia in advertising

Ads that use nostalgia are powerful and more likely to go viral, so why is it rarely used? Find out how nostalgia in advertising can help connect with people on a deeper, more emotional level.

The emotions that come with nostalgia can be as extreme as they are diverse. Looking back to the rose-tinted past can bring tears of joy or tears of sadness, and sometimes a combination of the two. Nostalgia is a powerfully emotive creative tool and was one of the key trends we saw across many of this year’s Kantar Creative Effectiveness Awards winners.

Nostalgia is a sense of sentimentality for the past, which can be triggered by places, objects or anything with personal memories and associations from a previous time. One classic example in the UK is the original Hovis ad, taking us back to the ‘good’ old days. Our imaginations encourage us to believe that the past existed in a purer form; like escapism, it is a journey of the mind. This deep level of transportation, also known as a ‘Proustian moment’ – an involuntary sensory-induced, vivid and emotional reliving of events from the past – can be triggered by any sense, without any thought processing. Escapism also a theme we saw in this year’s winning Creative Effectiveness Awards ads, differs from nostalgia in that it is more of a ‘conscious’ mental diversion used to avoid boring or unpleasant aspects of daily life, either via our imagination or through entertainment.

This article was published exclusively on Kantar.com on June 13, 2023.