Consumers have had a rough go of it in 2022, setting the stage for a dim outlook this holiday season. As the world contends with war, inflation and the enduring complexities of pandemic life, marketers this year have frequently turned the clocks back to transport people to better times. How much “better” those times actually were is debatable, but there’s no denying that nostalgia has remained a powerful tactic for driving earned media impressions and sales during a period of crunched budgets and high anxiety.
Even as companies have increased investments in future-facing bets like the metaverse in 2022, many have taken inspiration from vintage sources. Occasionally, they’ve leveraged leading-edge technology to create a more accurate — and arguably creepy — simulacrum of bygone eras.
The demand for escapism in marketing has manifested in varied ways, from the ‘80s maximalism of integrations with “Stranger Things” to the resurrection of passé clothing fads and retail chains. In the age of smartphones and TikTok, disposable cameras are back. And increasingly, cultural reference points have creeped into the aughts, a sign that marketers are focusing more of their attention on Gen Z consumers versus their millennial counterparts.
Below, Marketing Dive breaks down some of the most impactful and innovative nostalgia-driven campaigns and activations from 2022. The trend is unlikely to let up in 2023 as recessionary fears take shape and global turmoil persists. We are due for a ‘90s-tinged “Barbie” movie, after all.