Nostalgia: not what it used to be

Chris, Matt and I were having a chat the other day about the sheer number of brands who’ve suddenly started reminding people through their communications just how long they’ve been around…


…so, M&S above are celebrating their 125th anniversary, then you’ve got Sainsbury’s 140th, Persil’s 100th birthday and so on.

In times of uncertainty it’s intriguing how companies are using their longevity and heritage to reassure people; ‘we’ve been here for you for ages, and we’ve gone through countless recessions, so don’t worry about it…’

Which is all well and good of course, but it’s not just a normal recession, and it’s nothing like any company has seen before…

…it’s a big economic shock which has arrived at the same time as a massive social shock which is changing the way we come together, as I covered in the first half of this presentation:

The Future of Advertising, APA, 17/02/09
View more presentations from John v Willshire.

No matter what brand you’re working on, when you talk about ‘brand birthdays’ I don’t think it’s enough to rely on a nostalgic take on heritage… it’s not about the past, it’s a bout the future.

So it’s not about ‘we’ve been around for ages and we’ll keep doing the same old thing for you‘.  People don’t want the ‘same old thing’.

I think what people will really connect with is ‘We’ve been around for ages because we can anticipate what you’ll want next, embrace change, pioneer in everything we do, and help you out in this brave new world’.

We want to buy things from companies we feel understand the modern world, not ones that are stuck in the past.