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10 Winning Nostalgia Marketing Examples to Emulate

Content Marketing

From time to time, we often relive memories from the past at the most unexpected of moments which often evokes forgotten emotions. These can be triggered by any reminiscences that reconnect us with old experiences, often associated with solid levels of affection and longing. In these instances, this feeling of nostalgia can remind us of previous encounters that lead us to what our lives have turned out to be today. 

In marketing, nostalgia is often used as another one of many tactics to capitalize on and boost engagement rates. In a series of studies published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015, researchers have stated that this emotion can push people to make bigger purchasing decisions and spend more money. While many people might not notice it, it is a commonly used and effective tactic found everywhere. 

There are several examples of nostalgia marketing that business owners can apply to all sorts of industries and markets. But before we get into those, we must first give ourselves a better understanding of this strategy and how it can be fully utilized to make your brand stand out from other competitors.

What is Nostalgia Marketing?

Nostalgia marketing is the use of emotionally evocative content to connect with consumers. This type of marketing aims to induce a sentimental longing for a past experience, bringing back positive feelings while driving a favorable response from the consumer.

Brands could use nostalgia marketing to boost their sales as it can be an effective approach to generate consumer engagement. Read on for some examples of nostalgia marketing worth considering.

When Brands Get It Right: 10 Winning Nostalgia Marketing Examples to Emulate

Several companies have taken advantage of the nostalgia factor and successfully incorporated it into their marketing tactics. Here are a few examples of these strategies and how it worked out for the brands. 

1. Crystal Pepsi by Pepsi 

In the 90s, Pepsi released a new drink called Crystal Pepsi, which was marketed as a caffeine-and-preservative-free version of their most popular soda. After several years from being discontinued, the brand reintroduced the soda for a limited time in 2016.

The marketing campaign for this product used multiple throwbacks such as Furbies and Tamagotchis to boost sales for those familiar with its original debut. As a result, the product began trending on various social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.

2. Surge Comeback by Coca-Cola 

Thanks to the nostalgia card and its loyal consumer base, Coca-Cola has often been successful with its marketing campaigns. In the 90s, the brand released a drink called ‘Surge’ to compete against Mountain Dew before discontinuing it in 2003. However, after a few years, fans of the old drink created a petition in 2014, which caused a significant movement on Facebook. 

Coca-Cola happily responded to this by re-releasing the beverage for a limited time online in the United States the following year, which quickly sold out. To this day, vintage soda cans of the drink are still highly valued and considered a rare collectible. 

3. Nintendo Classic Mini by Nintendo

Nintendo is no stranger when it comes to nostalgia marketing as it is one of the most popular tactics they use to sell their newer consoles to familiar fans. in 2016, Nintendo released the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) Classic Mini, a more miniature replica of the brand’s first gaming console. 

The product featured a simple plug-and-play setup similar to old retro gaming consoles used in the ’90s with over 30 classic games such as Super Mario Bros, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, and many more. As of June 2018, Nintendo has sold over 3.6 million units worldwide.

4. Cookie Monster and Apple Inc. collaboration 

Apple is one of the most creative brands out there when it comes to marketing strategies. In many cases, the company makes use of high-profile celebrities as the face of their advertisements to connect better with their target market. Considering the nostalgia factor, the business released a new campaign in 2016 where they used a familiar character to market the iPhone 6.

Sesame Street’s famous character, Cookie Monster, was featured in a short commercial to show how fun and accessible the brand is. Apart from that, a series of bloopers were also released to give customers that familiar heart-warming feeling when seeing their favorite characters on screen. In total, Apple was able to sell over 220 million units for this single series alone. 

5. The NeverEnding Story by Spotify

Spotify introduced a new spokesperson in 2016, which brought back familiar memories among older users who were fans of the hit film The NeverEnding Story. The movie was first released in the mid-80s where it was able to successfully release two sequels later on in the 90s due to popularity. 

To hit the nostalgia theme better, the company recruited the original actors to reprise their roles for this campaign. As of 2021, the original song ‘The NeverEnding Story’ sung by Limahl now has over 64.5 million streams on the app.

6. Gazelles by Adidas

In 1968, Adidas released the Gazelles as football sneakers. Many years later, athleisure became a trend, and people were willing to spend money on sports-inspired footwear.


Adidas saw the opportunity to bring back a crowd favorite, the classic Gazelles. Sales rapidly shot up, and these trainers got more exposure following Adidas’ collaboration with Gucci for fancier designs.

7. Chicken McNuggets by McDonald’s

It’s safe to assume that everybody loves chicken nuggets, and McDonald’s knows exactly how to capitalize on that. McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets were a staple for many kids in the 1980s. Even adults enjoyed the recipe.


Nearly four decades later, in 2020, McDonald’s launched the product’s spicy flavor. The fast-food chain credits the nuggets for the boosted sales during the first two years of the pandemic. Currently, McDonald’s keeps the McNuggets on the menu as one of its key offerings.

8. ‘90s Fest by Nickelodeon

The ‘90s was a golden age for Nickelodeon. “SpongeBob Square Pants,” “Hey Arnold!,” “Rugrats,” you name it. These shows brought color to the childhood of most ‘90s kids.


More than 20 years after these major cartoon shows became a hit, Nickelodeon featured re-runs of some of these classics in 2015 in response to a groundswell of nostalgia on Facebook from fans.

9. The Re-Issue Project by Calvin Klein

The fashion industry witnessed a déjà vu moment when Calvin Klein (CK) brought back iconic pieces from the ‘80s and ‘90s in a collection dubbed “The Re-Issue Project.” With supermodel Kate Moss’s younger sister as one of the campaign’s faces, the brand re-introduced classic denim pieces such as high-waist jeans and boyfriend jeans, including cropped T-shirts and sweatshirts flashing the brand’s logo.


It can be remembered that previous CK faces like Kate Moss used to sport boyfriend jeans. Meanwhile, Brooke Shields modeled high-waist jeans back in the day.

Celebrities took part in the campaign by particularly channeling Mark Wahlberg’s 1992 CK ad, posing with their Calvin Klein underwear showing over their jeans.

10. Switch by Nintendo 

The classic Nintendo Game Boy was released in 1989, the first to bring video games away from the confines of wall outlets. During this decade, Nintendo became a major brand in the video game industry.

Fast forward to 2017, Nintendo rolled out the Switch hybrid video game console. It comes with features that support multiplayer gaming options, allowing players to play online or in the same room using either a single system or multiple systems.


Other features of the console vary by game, such as split-screen play and voice chat. However, sharing the fun with friends and family is still the main goal of Nintendo Switch, the feature that made the brand a household name. This Nintendo release generated 111 million sales for the company, thanks to the power of nostalgia.

A Blast from the Past

Connecting with old memories can often be a fond experience that motivates consumers to relive their past experiences. In marketing, this can be a powerful ally for many brands to boost their reputation and engagement rates with their consumer base. 

When appropriately used, nostalgia can have a significant impact on the lives of many people. It isn’t just about selling a product; it’s also about helping your customers connect with old memories that can live on as they grow older.

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