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Back to the Future: How the 80s are back in video marketing?

Back in Black, if you started to head bop to the AC/DC song or lovingly remembered your LBD (Little Black Dress, if you don’t know, Coco Chanel disapproves), STOP! We’re talking about the 80s, and how they’re back in the business of advertising and marketing.

Under the label of Nostalgia, a study by Klarna identified 5 shopping trends, first Vintage tech (wired headphones and flip phones) with an increase of 317% and 81% respectively, and the second biggest uptake is in hyper feminity (barbie-core, ballet core and bimbocore) with a 126% increase in pink products, 96% in ballet flats and 55% in nail diamonds. These were followed by Y2K, Counterculture and Regencycore.

Now if you’re a curious brand, read on to see what you can do to join the movement with a video marketing agency in India. 

Window-shopping for trends? What’s on the market?

With a pair of our Rosamund Pike’s binoculars, we see type-driven designs, a rebellion towards clean and sleek lines of minimalism, and text-heavy creatives with punchy headlines and condensed serif fonts. 

On a deeper dive, we realise that all homogeneity of ad design in terms of mirror bases, stock photos, and semi-transparent overlays, everyone wanted to do and what Airbnb had was broken. Two weeks ago, at one of the biggest games of the year Super Bowl, advertisers and marketers disrupted this design homogeneity with a blast from the past, be it Rakuten’s Cher Horowitz (Clueless) ad or how Serena Williams starred for Michelob Ultra in an ad that drew on the classic comedy “Caddyshack”.

Ad films, music videos, and digital ads, in the recent past, all have visual cues with motifs from the 80s like Cathode-ray tube TVs, fax machines, cassette tapes, vibrant colours (especially candy shades, like a unicorn who ate too much cotton candy and threw up), lycra leggings, and even businesses that are solely digital have hopped on the trend using cues to physicality with VHS dithering, film grain and textured paper backgrounds.

TGIF for the rest of the year! Or we’re just made to believe this? 

Ever since Covid-19, time just seems to have gone on an endless loop of celebrating, people are splurging on fashion, food, and culture while living every day like it’s their last. 

Now, what to do, as a good business when people are open to the idea of spending? We make them spend. Why is the 80s resurging back into advertising? It is because businesses are playing with the concept of nostalgia marketing to help people forget their current problems while promising a sunshine time. 

Nostalgia Marketing is like a UNO reverse card that helps you tap into positive, sunny, happy memories of your consumer from previous decades to build brand trust and reinvigorate new campaigns. 

During Super Bowl 2023’s ad showcase, John Travolta who starred in Grease more than 40 years ago was seen singing an updated version of “Summer Nights” to introduce T-Mobile’s 5G home internet service. 

With the world economy going for a tumble this year, and as recessionary fears loom over, nostalgia marketing is surely not going to let up in 2023.  Brand Purpose is going to drive buying decisions this year, with brands having to meet their consumers at the in-between of inflationary pressures and post-pandemic Roaring 20s.

Go Big or Go Home, or Go Big and Go Home

Unlike other brands during the pandemic, some have really capitalized on this concept. The epitome of happiness, a Happy meal saw a new take in 2022 by McDonald’s, they launched an adult happy meal in collaboration with The Cactus Flea Market.  Missed it? Watch it here.

The response to the adult happy meal made it the most successful campaign as well as the biggest failure for McDonald’s throughout the year. The adult happy meal was sold out in a week with some of the toys getting listed on eBay for as high as $100,000. 

On the other hand, the pandemic-born brand Vacation is solely made of the sun, sand and sunshine times from the 80s. A sunscreen brand by profession, it cross-markets with Poolsuite (probably the oldest-looking website on the Internet). 

No brand has quite nailed the 80s mantra as precisely as Vacation, since debuting in 2021, they have experienced 500% growth on YoY monthly DTC revenues. The company believe that when branding according to a particular aesthetic, no detail is left up in the air, to keep up with their vibe, they send invoices on dot-matrix printer paper, pop-ups on the site look like coupons and photoshoots look like something that Samantha Baker (from Sixteen Candles, 1984) would have been influenced by. Vacation feels authentic but is still luxurious.

The world is no longer static, it is a motion picture

We no longer see the majority of advertising in print or on billboards, most of the commercials we’re exposed to are on social media, and in-between games. With 91% of consumers desiring to watch more video content from brands online, how do you leverage this 80s trend or nostalgia marketing and make the most for your brand? 

Veganuary a non-profit organization that encourages people to go Vegan for the month of January and beyond, earlier this year latched on to the ‘80s nostalgia with candy-coloured PSAs that addressed the post-holiday blues. 

The film opened with characters representing our modern-age problems of binge-watching, doom-scrolling and indiscriminately napping, these were soon motivated by a Pink boombox and a Veganuary coach dressed in spandex and drowned in positivity. 

Old Spice last year used deepfake technology to resurrect Dolph Lundgren in a  spoof of old 80s action flicks. They created a series featuring scenarios where a sweaty Lundgren races around to promote their new Sweat Defense Dry Spray antiperspirant. The video since then has garnered 51mn views, and with a cohesive strategy, this helped Old Spice remain relevant in a world that keeps on getting busier. (don’t believe us, watch it for yourself)

While these brands leveraged, elements, fashion trends, and iconic characters to get on the bandwagon of nostalgia marketing, you need to figure out what works best for you, because there’s always a fear of coming off as unauthentic. 

And Therefore…

As a brand owner or marketing head, your basic need is survival and relevancy. In a world that is increasingly becoming homogenous in terms of ad design and campaigns, you need to find a video marketing agency in India that not only helps you stay relevant but also ahead of the curve. 

We’re Buffalo Soldiers, a full-service creative agency that can not only help you with video marketing but also create and execute a well-rounded project. We’re a tribe of storytellers, hustlers and of Gen-Z’s, our dreams our big and so are the ones we see for you. 

Reach out to us for a free consultation. We will assist you with creating a video marketing strategy that aligns with your brand and its goals.

Author avatar
Niti Bohra
A designer turned writer, her copies drip with caffeine, controversy and chaos (the good kind). She loves LOVE but is a cynic at the same time (go figure!). She’s the Man when there’s a game of football streaming and a poet after a glass of inspiration hits. Her superpowers include planning, visualizing and being mean (think Wednesday Addams).