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  • Writer's pictureDeJuan Wright

How To Use Nostalgic Advertising To Increase Brand Affinity

Updated: Nov 19, 2023

Here’s a life hack that can help you feel a little bit better whenever you’re having a bad day. Think about that time in high school or middle school when one of your classmates that you were really attracted to smiled at you; gave you their phone number, maybe a kiss, or even did something as simple acknowledge your presence in a kind way. That memory probably still puts a smile on your face just thinking about it. Am I right?

That’s because nostalgia often triggers good memories. And the better the memory, the better the feeling.

The cool thing about nostalgia is that it can be more effective at certain times. For instance, during unstable times, people long for the days of stability; back to a time when things made more sense and there was much more certainty. Which brings us to nostalgic advertising. And how you can use it to increase consumer affinity towards your brand.

If you’ve never heard of nostalgic advertising, don’t fret, most people probably haven’t either. So you are definitely not alone in that regard. Nostalgic advertising is simply advertising that utilizes nostalgia in order to appeal to an audience.

Nostalgic advertising is a great marketing tool because it sparks happiness within a targeted audience. Why is that? Because as humans, we’re naturally attracted to things and people that make us feel better. And nostalgia makes people feel better. Which is why we tend to remember those who gave us good news more favorably and tend to like them more.

We also remember those who gave us bad news and have more disdain towards them (do your best to avoid being the deliverer of bad news to someone). So, with that being said, here’s how to use nostalgic advertising to increase brand affinity.

Be a great DJ

If you’ve ever been to a really good party, there’s a good chance that you probably enjoyed yourself there because the DJ had a great playlist and was killing it with the tunes that was played during the party. That’s because there’s so much power in music. The energy music provides can evoke emotion; help you crush a workout, it could even make you cry tears of joy or sorrow.

Which is why a good way to use nostalgia in your advertising to increase brand affinity is to be a great DJ. That means identifying your target audience, and being sure to feature songs in your ads that would trigger nostalgia within that audience.

I’m sure you’re probably asking yourself, “How would I know which songs to feature in my advertising in order to trigger nostalgia within my audience?” Great question! According to this article from The Verge, men, on average, aged 14 when their favorite song was released. And women, on average, aged 13 when their favorite song was released.

So, the way you can be a great DJ and get your audience to feeling all happy inside, is to play their favorite song. Utilizing the data listed above, here’s an example of how you can do that:

Let’s say that you own a software company and your target customer profile is ideally a man or woman that’s a 32-year-old office manager. That means that they were 14-years-old in 2003. That year the song, In Da Club by 50 Cent was No.1 in markets all around the world.

So, there’s a very high probability that In Da Club would be one of your target customer's favorite songs. If you were to play that song, or even just its instrumental, in one of your advertisementsit would trigger nostalgia instantaneously. Which would lead to them enjoying the ad, and even better, they’d appreciate your brand for presenting it to them.

Feature the classics

I don’t know about you, but I have about five movies that I watch whenever they come on television; regardless of how many times I’ve seen them. That’s partly because those movies often remind me of the first time that I saw them and help me recall those days.

Think about it, have you ever wondered why every year around Christmas time, certain television networks always seem to air the films: Home Alone, It’s a Wonderful Life, and A Christmas Story?

The reason for that simple; for many people, those movies are heartwarming and trigger a plethora of pleasant thoughts about their childhood. Many look forward to seeing those movies come on television every Christmas because it makes them think of their youth and all the good feelings they had as a kid on Christmas.

Bring your audience even closer to your brand by using clips and images from classic movies or television shows (even cartoons) in your marketing materials to evoke nostalgia.

One way to do that is by doing things like creating memes featuring classic scenes from movies or television shows (that would resonate with your audience, of course) and post them on your brand’s social media pages.

You could also create clips of you or your staff re-enacting scenes from classic movies and post them on your brand’s social media pages. Those that love those movies will probably stop in their tracks to watch your content because it will definitely catch their attention.

It’s important to remember that no matter which clip or image you choose to feature, be sure that it’s from a classic movie or television show that resonates with your target audience; preferably from a movie that has a comedic or inspirational element attached to it. Also, be sure you have the appropriate rights to use the content as well to avoid any potential legal ramifications.

Utilize The Rockwell Effect

Norman Rockwell was an American illustrator that’s world-renowned for his paintings of classic American culture. Americans gravitated towards Rockwell's paintings because his earlier works portrayed images of the idealistic way of living that Americans believed represented the true core of the country (aka “Classic Americana”).

You can utilize the Rockwell effect by producing images in your advertising that shows people in simpler times; by featuring imagery that represents how people wish things were today. Remember, the worse times get—the more people yearn for the days when things were better.

And what’s more, many people also yearn for the days that they've never even experienced themselveswhich are the days where everything was easy-going and everyone got along harmoniously.

Although those days never truly existed, people innately believe that at one time, that’s how things were. So, focus your advertising approach to producing imagery that will trigger a sense of nostalgia within your target audience. And as a result, that audience will enjoy your ads. Which would lead towards affinity for your brand— that's if your brand is consistent.


Nostalgic advertising is a great tool that could be pulled out of the marketer’s toolbox whenever you want to create a bridge to help consumers get closer to your brand. That's because it triggers good feelings.

And while nostalgic advertising can be used to increase brand affinity—keep in mind that it is a branding strategy, not necessarily a strategy to use for direct sales.

However, if used correctly, the tactics listed above will increase affinity towards your brand. And over time, that affinity will lead to consumer desire. And if your product or services makes consumers feel as good as your advertising does… that desire will lead to love.


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