In U.K., brands jump on the nostalgia bandwagon

Is nostalgia and heritage a winning formula when times are hard? No.

“Trying something new for 140 years: Sainsbury’s.”

“Tough but gentle for 100 years: Persil.”

“Quality worth every penny: M&S celebrating 125 years.”

Several brands have jumped on the nostalgia and birthday bandwagon, portraying themselves as having been with the British people for generations, influencing society, culture and individual’s lives, and promising they will continue to be with the British people today and hopefully for another century. It started last year when Hovis launched an epic 122-second TV ad looking back at the 122 years of British history a loaf of its bread has witnessed and announcing the brand’s return into stores.

Hovis managed to create a strong emotional connection, but the rest seems a bit of a miss. Heritage doesn’t mean much in a world where long-established institutions go bust and disappear overnight. Plus, nostalgia for a brand’s past is irrelevant if its values are rooted in what consumers desire today (Sainsbury’s: inspiring people to try something new every day; M&S: quality, value, service, innovation and trust). Nostalgia worked for Hovis because it’s the brand idea—not because of the current climate.

2 Responses to “In U.K., brands jump on the nostalgia bandwagon”


  • This nostalgia theme is a very clear one in parts of the world. But I wonder whether it works best in Western markets. I can’t see this approach happening in Asia. Or can someone find a counter example?

  • ‘Old’ Brands like Tiger Balm have done well in remaining relevant through repositioning and brand extensions but perhaps not playing a strong nostalgia card. The view that nostalgia pervades the consumption cultre of developed markets, rather than developing ones (ie most of Asia) is probably a viable one.

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