10 Brands That Have Profited Off of Nostalgia Marketing

Customers love when they can relate to a brand in some way, shape or form. The same can be said for feelings of nostalgia. For example, as an adult, if you were to dig out some old toys from your attic, the products you’ll find are bound to bring out some iconic memories from your childhood. Companies are now aiming to do the same thing with their products. 

Nostalgia marketing is best defined as a marketing strategy used to create a unique emotional feeling in customers. A lot of the time it can evoke a powerful meaning in happy childhood memories, giving consumers all the more reason to make the purchase. 

We’ve rounded up some of the top brands who have all stuck a hand in the nostalgia pot for marketing purposes. No matter how each one is measured for success, one statement can be said for sure. And the fact is that all of these brands were able to initiate a large amount of hype in their own creative “throwback” ways. Let’s take a look! 


McDonald’s has always been known as a big delicious and greasy meal consisting of a burger, fries and soda. However, as more people have moved to a more health-conscious lifestyle and are gravitating to more organic foods, this popular food chain hasn’t been seeing as much action as they’re used to serving. 

To combat this and pull at the heartstrings of those who grew up with the Happy Meals or Big Macs, the company launched a campaign featuring an 80s song and kid with a modern kid both playing video games, having pets and eating McDonalds. Although the times are different, the brand wanted to reinforce that it can very much be a part of modern times. They also launched a new version of their chicken nuggets made with fresh white meat.    


Coca-Cola has always been iconic! The brand brought the image of Santa Claus to life and is one of the most popular soda drinks known in the nation. There doesn’t seem to be a place you can’t find it in the country. 

Since more health-conscious consumers have been looking into other drink options, Coca-Cola  is fighting to keep top relevance among their target market. This includes bringing back the vintage signs and brand imaging. Not only does it bring back nostalgia, but it also is a way to get back into the brand roots without a real need to rebrand.  


Did you know that 2016 was one of the most popular years for Nintendo to be given as a gift during holiday time? The vintage aspect of Nintendo was being sold during Christmas time such as the NES Classic Mini Console and the Super NES Classic Edition. 

Parents tend to buy into these products as a way to memorialize their time as kids and to share that piece of themselves with their own kids.  


Fashion always has a way of circling back around again. For Adidas, it was the idea of bringing back the vintage sneakers. And it worked because it’s not only considered a trend, but it’s now sold and marketed as a fashion staple. 

It first began with the campaign regarding the sneaker Stan Smith. After the major success, they then went on another round and brought back the Gazelle. Sales have skyrocketed and Adidas has gained a competitive advantage in the battle for more market share.  

Calvin Klein 

Calvin  Klein was a hot commodity in the 90s. To resurface the desire of the pieces, the brand decided to recycle some of their old ideas in 2014. For instance, Kate Moss was one of the original models in some of the staple campaigns. In the new ads, they now feature Lottie Moss, which is Kate’s sister. The campaign was also shot by the original photographer’s grandson. 

They also revived old designs and sent them back to stores. Stores such as Urban Outfitters began their revival and were sent CK products. Adidas also collaborated with CK, and it helped them go back on the map as a classic brand.   


To get more viewership on the television channel, Nickelodeon decided to bring back the viewers they once had when they were younger. To do that, they sectioned off a block in the evening to play shows specific to the millennial generation. They called it “The 90s are All That.” 

An instant hit, the television ratings spiked up to 50% and more viewers from ages 18-35 started tuning into the nostalgic shows. This turned out to be great because they were able to expand on their target market and measure them accordingly. They now have a set way to market their current day-time watchers in the future. 


Doritos brought national attention when they launched a commercial during the Super Bowl. Their 60-sec spot got them a ticket to promoting their Flaming Hot Nacho flavor all while teaming up with Chance the Rapper and The Backstreet Boys. 

The Backstreet Boys were kicking off a new tour, so this campaign was able to mutually benefit both brands looking to obtain more exposure. For a modern and more memorable twist, they added the hashtag #NowItsHot. This instantly created a call-to-action and a way to measure the engagement level of the actual commercial. 


Walmart wanted to place a switch on their offerings by adding retro arcade games to their stores…and they did exactly that! During the 2018 holiday season, Walmart stores displayed an area for customers to enter and play these vintage games. 

The company is no stranger to arcade games either. On their online website, they have an entire section that sells an array of different game platforms and tabletops. This even includes game consoles such as Atari and Sega. 

Video games can be loved by the whole family, so this is a great way to get more people to enter the brick and mortar stores and search their online offerings. 

Forever 21 X Pepsi 

Most shoppers will walk into a Forever 21 and will see an array of clothing pieces marked with brand names from different industries. Pepsi found an opportunity in this information, and so they entered into a collaboration together. 

Both brands wanted to highlight both the 80s/90s era, so Pepsi released vintage-branded jackets all under Forever 21. 

Brand logos have become quite the fashion statement, and there’s no concrete insight to believe it will be going away anytime soon. We can expect other brands to collaborate with more stores in order to get their logo distributed and sold. 


In an attempt to save Internet Explorer, Microsoft came out with an ad “Called Child of the 90s”. This was a way to target 90s children who were all going with self discovery. They made the comparison to Internet Explorer as it was going through its own growing pains. 

Although Internet Explorer is in the midst of being phased out, the entire campaign made a valuable attempt and was able to create quite the hype for themselves. They used a ton of 90s toys such as Hungry Hippo and the Walkman to introduce a sense of nostalgia and emotion to the well-known browser. 

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