The Nostalgia Trend: How old is so new right now

Did you see the image that broke the internet this week? It wasn’t an egg, it wasn’t empty supermarket shelves.

It wasn’t a Kardashian derriere. It was this highly stylised instagram post of the cast of Friends in a vintage car, with a single teasing tagline “It’s happening”.

Aside from the fact this reunion isn’t a standalone episode – just an unscripted hour of the cast back in the studio – the hype has been immense. Yes, it’s one of the most loved shows of all time (HBO paid nearly half a billion for the rights to the reruns), but the buzz speaks to a bigger trend that’s going on in content right now – nostalgia. And audiences can’t get enough.

Nostalgia can be a powerful tool in video. It transports us back to a simpler time – not necessarily globally, but personally – a freedom before the complexities of adult life. And if you look around, you’ll see it everywhere. Retro and vintage fashion, typography, interiors, design and restaurant trends. Video is no exception.

During the superbowl last month, nostalgia was a common thread – be it Bill Murray reliving GroundHog day for Jeep or Bryan Cranston recreating The Shining for Mountain Dew. This ad for Xfinity about E.T. returning to earth 37 years later, using the actor who originally played Elliot (now a Dad himself) has clocked up more than 18 million views.

Closer to home, we saw Qantas make headlines this week with their new safety video, which travels back in time to showcase aviation across decades, complete with costumes, 70s soul music and smoking on planes. And VB recently announced their switch to 100% solar using the medium of their iconic 1980s ‘Hard earned thirst’ ads.

Nostalgia can elicit a shared collective memory, often through rose-tinted glasses. We can laugh and connect over shared memories of jingles, dubious fashion choices, and teenage heartthrobs. It can also be a highly effective contrast to our current reality.

To do just that, we recently dabbled in some nostalgia trips of our own. For The Climate Council, our brief was to tap into the current anxiety and fear over summer. Save our Summer encompassed into the simplicity and joy of childhood summers, contrasted with the current reality around our hottest summers on record.

For the launch of the Centre for Responsible Technology, we compared a world of the early vision of the internet – one of connectivity and possibility with the current state of misinformation and corporatisation.

For GetUp!, we’ve just interviewed Benita from Playschool, who frequently gets stopped for selfies by 20 and 30 somethings. And for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, we’re reminiscing about a world of sport before gambling ads turned stadiums into giant billboards. It’s powerful stuff.

How could you leverage the trend of nostalgia in your story? Does your brand or organization have heritage or archives to dip into? Do you have an influencer or ambassador who was big in the 90s? Could you recreate or refer to an iconic moment? Has something shifted from the world of our childhoods to the current climate?

Let’s wind back the clock, and have a chat.

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