Is Nostalgia the Ultimate Selling Tool?

Sep 07, 2015
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One of my earliest memories of eating out was the pure happiness of picking up a toy from a Happy Meal as a kid on a trip to McDonald’s. Although my tastes are now more refined, when this fully grown adult walks past a McDonalds in 2015, I still get the odd flashback of those childhood memories.

I am confident if I were to sit down with the McDonalds marketing department, I am sure they would be the first to admit that these feelings of pleasant nostalgia are no accident and certainly not a unique emotion.

Star Wars is something else that dominated my late-1970s and early-’80s childhood. Naturally, it should be of little surprise that the sight of a Stormtrooper outfit or the sound of a light-sabre is enough to make me giddy with excitement.

Over the years, I have witnessed Geek culture grow from a relatively small yet passionate underground scene to the colossal mainstream audience it receives today. Much of this growth can probably be credited to the explosion of the internet that is guilty of encouraging the over indulgence in celebrating all things nostalgia related.

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Geek statesman Simon Pegg trolled Radio Times magazine by his own admission earlier this year when he said “Nerd culture is the product of a late capitalist conspiracy, designed to infantilize the consumer as a means of non-aggressive control” and also went on to say that  “It is a kind of dumbing down in a way, and it’s taking our focus away from real-world issues”

Now we’re essentially all consuming very childish things – comic books, superheroes… Adults are watching this stuff, and taking it seriously! – Simon Pegg

Pegg then found himself on the wrong end of a backlash and to his credit returned with an incredibly insightful essay that explained how extended adolescence has been cannily co-opted by market forces.

I am more than aware of the fine line when talking about such matters, and I run a risk of flirting with the tin foil hat brigade and their wild theories. However, it seems that everywhere I look, I am faced with a hefty dose of good old-fashioned nostalgia in a world where adult colouring books have become the norm.

There is Timehop on Facebook that is keen to tell me exactly what photo I posted 7 years ago. Meanwhile, Buzzfeed strongly urges me to tell the world which Breakfast Club character I resemble and even find myself fascinated watching the unboxing of toys on the internet along with millions of others.

Despite the next Star Wars movie being three months away from arriving on our cinema screens. The New York Times is predicting an insane $615 million opening weekend that has prompted Disney to turn their 24/7 marketing campaign up to warp factor 9 with Force Friday last week.

If the queues and excitement were anything to go by, you can be sure that the expensive BB-8 toy ($125) will be the gift that parents need to secure very early to avoid disappointment on Christmas morning. Ironically, this latest Star Wars toy is probably high on the Christmas list of both parent and child that illustrates just how much all ages have invested into nostalgia and geekery.

Whatever your opinion, you can be sure that you won’t be able to hide from anything Star Wars related over the next few months.  Nostalgia will continue to be used as an extremely efficient tool for selling, and it’s important to remember that many Bothans died to bring us this information (shameless Star Wars joke)

Do you think nostalgia and geek culture have become tools to sell more products?

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