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As If! Nostalgia Marketing Meets the 90s

Experiential Marketing

Brands and agencies are taking a “blast from the past” approach with nostalgia marketing designed to capture consumers’ attention through emotionally-driven campaigns. 

Remember the 90s? Sitting on your bean bag chair, listening to the jarring dial-up sounds of AOL, while holding your “Tickle Me Elmo” and singing the Spice Girls’ “Wannabe” (and never knowing what “zig-a-zig-ah” meant, but it was really catchy anyway). 

Those were simpler times for many and almost 25 years later, in our current 21st century reality, reminiscing about the decade of Doc Martens, Beanie Babies, and “Goosebumps” is totally rad. 

Savvy brands and agencies have revived the era with nostalgic marketing celebrating 90s pop culture, so here’s the 411 on recent branded activations that are hella fly.

New Balance Rewind to the 90s Marketing

 Rewind to the 90s”

When New Balance launched their “X-90 Knit” in 2018, celebrating the best of the 90s with 21st-century street style, they wanted to pay homage to the decade that made their sneakers iconic fashion staples. Partnering with Footlocker and Nickelodeon, they produced a “Rewind to the 90s” nostalgia marketing pop-up event complete with all the greatest hits from a 90s kid’s childhood. 

Attendees were treated to a fully-immersive 90s experience that began with tickets in the form of “slap bracelets.” From there, they were treated to a Koosh ball-pit, mock Blockbuster store, and sets inspired by classic Nickelodeon shows like “Double Dare” and “SNICK” (the network’s popular Saturday-night programming block).

If that doesn’t sound like “da bomb,” New Balance even replicated the bedroom of a 90s teen, complete with vintage movie posters and desktop computer and gave attendees the chance to meet 90s-era celebrities like Ben Savage from “Boy Meets World” and Jaleel “Steve Urkel” White.

“The Crystal Pepsi Trail”

There were a lot of short-lived fads from the 90s, but few were as memorable (even 25 years later) as Crystal Pepsi. From their Super Bowl ad featuring Van Halen’s classic “Right Now” to Saturday Night Live’s “Crystal Gravy” parody commercial, there was a time in the early 90s where Crystal Pepsi was everywhere, until it wasn’t.

Crystal Pepsi Bottle

In 2015, Pepsi made the decision to revive the clear-colored soda for a limited eight-week run with a game called The Crystal Pepsi Trail, reminiscent of The Oregon Trail {the game you’d play in computer class as a kid, trying (in vain) to keep your 19th-century pioneers dying from dysentery}. 

Also featuring 90s references like Furbies and Tamagotchis, Pepsi found success with their nostalgia marketing campaign. Their first trailer announcing the game received a 104% organic engagement rate in its first 24 hours on Facebook coupled with fans praising the game’s authentic coding and design on Reddit.

 “Cher-able” Eats at “Clueless” Themed Restaurant

25 years-ago this summer, one of the most recognizable films of the 90’s premiered in theaters and forever changed the way we think of words like “Betty” and “Monet.” 

To celebrate the silver anniversary of “Clueless,” Paramount Pictures announced plans to open “As If!,” a pop-up restaurant in Los Angeles later this year. Teaming up with the same creative minds behind nostalgia marketing pop-ups including “Saved by the Bell,” “Good Burger,” and Beverly Hills’ 90201 “The Peach Pit,” “As If!” is set to feature L.A.-inspired food and drinks, as well set recreations and photos from the film. 

“It’s truly one of those films that has stood the test of time and cult fandom” Derek Berry, one of the concept’s partners, told Deadline in a recent interview, “With the anniversary quickly approaching there was no better team than ours to honor this beloved teen classic and bring Cher’s (Horowitz. The film’s main character played by Alicia Silverstone) world to life.” 

Relive the Good Old Days With Nostalgia Marketing

As brands and agencies continue to target Millennials at a fever pitch, when done successfully, nostalgia marketing can capture consumers’ attention by striking an emotional cord conjuring up fond memories of their childhood in a way that other campaigns simply can’t.

In 2020, as society is dominated by impersonal communication online, take a trip down memory with nostalgia marketing experiences and activations that are “all that and a bag of chips.”

Clueless Cover
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Why “Brand Love” is More than a Buzzword

Experiential Marketing

“Brand love.” It’s more than a boardroom buzzword. In 2020, the push for brands to be more authentic and personal than ever before is at an all-time high. Here’s why engagement marketing is the secret to creating life-long and loyal consumers to your brand.  

“Loyalty.” “Engagement.” “Trust.” Those are some of the most common buzzwords brands feel are the way to successfully develop deep relationships with consumers.  

But, what do they mean? When it comes to “brand love,” is it just a phrase that looks good on a PowerPoint? Or, is it possible for brands to use engagement marketing authentically and have consumers “fall in love” with them?

Twitter USWNT Experiential Marketing

Consumers Want Connections

It’s no secret to the world’s top brands. As research shows, the connections they make with consumers can be as deep and emotional as their relationships “IRL.” For many, when they think of Disney, the nostalgia of their childhood comes to mind. Or, how our relationship with Google is so ingrained in our everyday consciousness we don’t search for something online, we Google it. 

According to the Harvard School of Business, 95% of consumers purchasing decisions take place within our subconscious and that translates to 75% of consumers studied in 2014 who said their buying decisions are based on emotion. 

The idea of “brand love” isn’t a gimmick and building campaigns and strategies around the “L-word” is crucial to consumers’ loyalty and long-term commitment to brands. 

Think of sharing your first Hershey bar with a grandparent or buying your first pair of Nike Air Jordans. The feelings those moments create not only stay with you as years pass, but influence sharing those memories with future generations (who become future consumers).

According to social media management firm Sprout Social, when consumers don’t feel connected to a brand, 70% of those surveyed said they’re less likely to choose them over a competitor and 61% said they would spend less on that brand. Simply put, consumers want engagement marketing that cultivates a long-lasting relationship based on loyalty, integrity, reliability, and trust.

Be Authentic. Be Organic. Be Memorable

So, now you know the power that “brand love” brings to the table and (as Jennifer Lopez once sang) “love don’t cost a thing.” That may not be completely true when it comes to the millions of dollars brands spend on marketing and advertising each year, but there is some meaning to that catchy lyric. According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, consumer loyalty can be worth 10 times as much as a single purchase. 

How can brands capture the kind of “brand love” that essentially pays for itself in the long-run? Look to experiential marketing as the perfect opportunity to cut through the noise and connect with consumers on a deeper level. 

Being authentic is not something brands can manufacture from a boardroom, but it is important to consumers. Authenticity comes from understanding and communicating your personal story in a thoughtful and compelling way. If it’s artificial or contrived, your brand’s story will fall flat. 

Experiential and engagement marketing creates interactive and visual experiences that engage the senses and generates buzz for brands in a unique way. When brands can interact with consumers in fun and interesting ways, “brand loyalty” and “brand love” are created organically.

Increase Your “Brand Love” With Engagement Marketing 

Consumers expect more from brands than just a great product or a great commercial. Times have changed and so have consumers’ wants and needs from a brand. Using experiential and engagement marketing by creating memorable events and activations leaves a lasting impression consumers remember and that’s become the key to developing lifelong and loyal relationships.

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Enhance Your Fashion Brand With Experiential Marketing

Experiential Marketing

With the decline of shopping malls and retail stores, experiential marketing has provided an original and fresh way for fashion brands whose clientele want to experience their clothes in-person rather than through a computer screen. 

Spring is in the air and as consumers are putting their winter wares in storage, why not showcase and enhance your seasonal collection with stunning examples of experiential marketing that will help introduce new customers to your brand and give the competition serious envy.


Building Better Brand Association

Using experiential marketing can be the foundation for building a healthy relationship between your brand and your consumer that can be mutually rewarding. 

Consumers associate their preference for a particular luxury brand with prestige and name recognition. For retail brands, value serves as the determining factor between clothes that are relatively similar and harder to differentiate. 

Regardless of which tier your brand falls into, if your company has positive consumer relationships, you’ll benefit from increased long-term customer loyalty. 

Because fashion is no longer solely about turning heads on the catwalk or gracing the cover of Vogue, brands have begun thinking outside-the-box in order to reach a wider audience (while strengthening existing relationships with consumers) through experiential marketing.

Match Your Marketing With Your Brand

Pop-up events aren’t an entirely new concept. In fact, they’re the hottest trend in experiential marketing and fashion brands have taken advantage, setting-up temporary stores and trucks to reach new consumers and provide them with a memorable experience. 

Pop-up events are appealing because they create the same air of mystique, curiosity, and exclusivity (because they’re limited-time only) that many fashion companies strive for as part of the the essence of their brand. 

From legendary brands like Chanel, Stuart Weitzman, and Miu Miu, the world’s foremost fashion lines are getting creative, even hosting experiences combining food and fashion.

Dare to Daryl x Van Leeuwen Ice Cream Pop Up

In Vogue: Experiential Marketing and Fashion 

The enthusiasm for fashion brands to cultivate avant-garde experiences for their clientele will continue (and get even more innovative) into 2020 and beyond. From one trend-setting industry to another, fashion brands are understanding the exciting ways they can leverage experiential marketing and allow consumers to associate their brand with a positive experience.

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Next-Level Pop-Up Events to Enhance Your Brand

Experiential Marketing

Pop-up events are the hottest trend in experiential marketing and perfect for brands looking to test new concepts and products in an innovative, but low-cost and low-risk way. 

A lot of time, energy and effort goes into optimizing abstract marketing concepts. For agencies, showcasing a brand’s identity and essence in a neat, tidy and interesting way can be a tall order. 

But, what if it were possible for companies to get up close and personal with consumers in an immersive setting that showcases the essence of who they are and what they do? 

With pop-up events, companies can generate buzz that’s low-cost and low-commitment, but in a unique and immersive environment created and controlled in harmony with a brand’s message. 

To help execute your next branded experience, check out how planning a successful pop-up event can help take a brand’s marketing and promotion to the next level.

Zara glass showroom truck

The Right Location is Everything

So, you have the perfect concept for your pop-up event and you’re ready to elevate your brand. But, ask yourself this. “Is the location primed to expose the brand to the widest market share possible?”

Without the right location, all the time, energy and effort spent letting the world know how great your brand is will be wasted. From foot traffic to visibility and a location with strong WiFi or Internet (so, customers can “webroom” and provide organic social media via posts and photos), these factors correspond directly to consumers’ reactions to and engagement with your pop-up event.

Aside from researching your desired location, there’s also the “fine print.” Do you have the required permits, licensing and insurance needed? Is all the necessary paperwork in order to ensure you can legally, safely and responsibly hold your pop-up event?

Depending on the state or municipality, you’ll have to navigate various regulations and policies, but do your homework and be thorough. What’s the point of having a show-stopping pop-up event if it leaves a negative impression on consumers because it’s been shut down

Leveraging Social Media

Brands are finding that pop-up events are a great experiential marketing tool to leverage awareness on social media. According to loyalty analytics company Aimia, 56% of U.S. consumers who follow brands on social media do so to view their products.

Social media is the key to expand your brand’s presence and reach with socially-connected consumers and influencers, while having a direct impact on their spending habits. By engaging on social media, your brand has the potential to directly partner with its audience and enhance a one-of-a-kind experiential marketing experience. 

Having a social media-driven pop-up event is the perfect way to grab the attention (and likes, and retweets) of consumers (and their followers) already on your page and prime them to go in-store and spend.

Calvin Klien Branded Truck Brand Activation


With a pop-up event you’re launching a one-time only event, so it goes without saying that you want to make a standout impression and (ideally) exceed expectations. 

But, think of a pop-up event as a grand-opening or a product launch. They aren’t infallible, so be prepared with aggressive planning. The more scenarios you’ve anticipated, the easier it’ll be to gracefully handle (and solve) the unexpected. 

The good, the bad and the ugly of what happens before, during and after your pop-up event comes largely from your preparation and the more work you put into planning your next pop-up event, the more success you’ll have. 


Make an Impact with Pop-Up Events

Pop-up events can be exciting experiences for consumers, with impressive results for your brand. With the right location, engaging social media promotion throughout, and proper planning you have the ability to test ideas in an accessible way that can generate buzz and awareness for your brand. 

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Flexing Your Marketing Muscles with Wellness Pop-Ups

Experiential Marketing

Gone are the days of crash diets and “lose weight quick” schemes. Health and wellness in the 21st century is a lifestyle and brands are using experiential marketing activations and pop-ups to educate consumers through immersive experiences. 

More and more lifestyle brands are using experiential marketing to shape-up and power-up. But, it takes more than salads and “mocktails” to break away from the pack and go for the gold. From wellness breaks to screen-free zones, here’s how brands and agencies are flexing their experiential marketing muscles with wellness-themed pop-up events.

What it Means to be “Bulletproof”

In 2018, lifestyle brand Bulletproof (widely known for its popular “Bulletproof Coffee” and collagen protein line) opened its first-ever experiential marketing pop-up in SoHo designed to create a rejuvenating recovery space or “human upgrade facility” catered to health-conscious visitors. 

In honor of their specialty coffee made with grass-fed butter, Bulletproof’s pop-up event featured a “Vibe Plate Garden,” where visitors had the opportunity to experience the brand’s vibration recovery plates, activating the brian, muscles, lymphatic system, and bones, while reducing post-exercise recovery time and improving mental acuity and flexibility. 

Attendees were also treated to Bulletproof’s “Oxygen Bar,” providing the benefits of increasing circulation, detoxifying blood, strengthening the immune system, and improved relaxation and sleep, with a variety of “oxygen flavors” including: lavender, eucalyptus, lemon, and peppermint. 

With guided meditation and yoga classes also available, Bulletproof’s experiential marketing activation managed to elevate the brand’s identity, while also garnering celebrity-buzz from attendees like Reality TV maven Bethenny Frankel of “Real Housewives of New York” fame. 

Bringing Experiential Marketing to the Masses

Most experiential marketing campaigns, especially pop-up events, are predominately created by luxury brands and catered to consumers who live in major U.S. cities. That’s a relatively small piece of the marketing pie, when you think about it. So, what about everyone else who doesn’t live in New York or L.A.? Back in January, retailer Kohl’s teamed up with WW (formerly, Weight Watchers) to launch health and wellness pop-ups across the U.S. as part of the weight-loss company’s partnership with Oprah Winfrey and their “Oprah’s 2020 Vision: Your Life in Focus Tour.”

At each pop-up, Kohl’s shoppers were able to relax in a branded lounge space and were treated to special “welcome bags” complete with “Kohl’s Cash,” the ability to shop WW products, speak with a WW wellness coach, and learn more about WW and sign up for a membership. 

And, for select WW members at each stop, styled in a new outfit from Kohl’s and recognized on-stage by Oprah herself, celebrating their transformations. 

Fast Food Aid

Ever wish that greasy burger or slice of pizza was actually good for you? Well, Tokyo-based design firm Kaibutsu noticed that young people in the city of Harajuku were indulging a little too much on junk food and teamed up with the Japanese organic food chain Dohtonbori to launch Fast Food Aid.

The pop-up was imagined as a pharmacy/vitamin store offering a variety of supplements, costing visitors only a receipt from a fast food restaurant in exchange for a customized bottle designed to replenish nutrients lost. 

From guilty pleasures like hamburgers, pizza, and ramen, each bottle focused on a particular junk food and came with professional advice about the health issues and risks associated with each food. 

The Future of Wellness Experiential Marketing

Health and wellness has come a long way from the days of “fad diets” and “8-Minute Abs.” Brands now treat the concept as a lifestyle rooted in science, nature, and education and wellness pop-up events have risen in popularity. Last year’s “SXSW Wellness Expo” featured over 170 brands showcasing activations and demonstrations across a 125,000 sq. ft. space. 

Wellness experiential marketing done right has the opportunity to help attendees fully immerse themselves in the world of healthy-living, while leaving a lasting impression on their mind, body, and soul. 



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