As we observed in a previous post, our Magic Nostalgic trend – whereby companies highlight their heritage, typically by taking a retrospective look at products or campaigns from yesteryear – remains alive and well in the post-recessionary climate. Indeed, only last month Honda became the latest brand to join the list of those using nostalgic marketing when adverts for its new 2012 Civic model focused on the history of the car over the last 39 years (19,000 sold, it proclaims, mean 19,000 stories to tell). In most cases, the proposition behind such marketing is clear: past success + forward-looking innovation = a contemporary brand on top of its game.
Yet we notice a growing number of services and devices which give the Magic Nostalgic trend a rather more personal, and digital, angle. Increasingly, we are being invited to look back at our own online activities and indulge in a little fond reminiscing about what we were doing this time last month, year and, before too long, it might be thought, decade. Photojojo’s Photo Time Capsule, for example, is a free service linked to Flickr which will email users twice a month with images they uploaded to their account twelve months earlier. A pictorial “blast from the past”, as it were. For those keen to follow their old tweets or status updates, meanwhile, twitshift and PastPosts offer similar services for Twitter and Facebook.
Undoubtedly, there is a strong element of novelty in these concepts and maintaining long-term interest among initially keen users will be crucial. But the trend does bring with it some clear commercial implications and applications and this is perhaps shown most clearly by Dearphotograph.com – a photo-sharing service launched in early 2011. On the site, users are invited to find physical copies of old photographs and, having returned to the spot in which they were originally taken, hold them aloft in the same position before capturing a new shot of the photograph against its original setting. As the creator says, you “take a picture of a picture from the past in the present” – allowing the photographer to blend the old with the contemporary and see how an area or particular landscape has changed over time.
Now, we have seen already how keen many consumers are to share branded images online – for confirmation, one need look only to the case of Starbucks and Instagr.am. Will, then, the concept of user-generated Magic Nostalgic become more important in the future? If some customers are happy to share images of themselves enjoying or interacting with a brand over time or at some point from their past, thereby allowing companies to create nostalgic campaigns which feature real-life and authentic customers, we rather think so.