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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