P&G, Unilever get nostalgic

18 June 2009

NEW YORK: Major advertisers including Procter & Gamble, Unilever and PepsiCo are increasingly using nostalgia in their US advertising campaigns as they seek to tap into changing consumer preferences in the country. 

Recent ads for Procter & Gamble's Luvs nappies range show babies "protesting" about the cost of other similar brands, and aim to demonstrate the sense of "revolution" associated with the 1960s. 

Nicole Lobkowicz, vice president of Saatchi & Saatchi, which created the campaign for the FMCG giant, argued the typical "Luvs mom is all about making her own decisions."

She added that the theme of the ads thus "embodies the culture of thinking for yourself and taking a stand", and bringing "that spirit to life" has helped to differentiate Luvs from its competitors.

Unilever has also been showing spots for its I Can't Believe It's Not Butter margarine set in the 1950s, and featuring a fictional family called the "Buttertons".

Keith Bobier, senior director for marketing at the Anglo-Dutch company, argued the "then-and-now set-up" is a particularly useful marketing tool.

This is because it allows the consumer goods manufacturer "to show people the difference between life as it used to be and today, when there's far more understanding of health concerns."

Similarly, PepsiCo ran a two-month long campaign starting in April, where the packaging and ads for its main cola variant and Mountain Dew brand were based on those used in the 1960s and 1970s.

Frank Cooper, its cmo for sparkling beverages, argued this trend is "about yearning for the past, a simpler time, even though the 1960s and 1970s were not simple. They just seem simple, looking back."

In the same vein, Volkswagen, the German-headquartered automaker, has developed ads featuring its iconic Beetle model from 1964, and a "Microbus" from 1963 alongside it latest vehicles.

Tim Ellis, the company's North American vice president for marketing, said this decade "evokes a time when young people were seeking to change society," and added that he saw "a lot of similarities with what's going on with today's youth."

Other advertisers contributing to this trend include Brooks Brothers, the retailer, which has used print executions from the last decades, including an execution from the 1960s with the headline "One country, one destiny."

Data sourced from New York Times; additional content by WARC staff