The retro brand wagon rolls


The Current recession has generated an increased trend towards brands using nostalgia in advertising. How have designers used nostalgic themes to persuade consumers and has this approach suppressed design creativity?

The global economic crisis began in September 2008 in the US with the collapse of the banking institution 'Lehman Brothers'. This had worldwide repercussions and reached the UK a few months later. Robert Opie the founder of the museum of brands, packaging and advertising in London believes that in times of economic crisis brands seek to associate themselves with a more positive era. (ref 1). On the other hand Robert Jones head of 'Wolff Olins' claims that designers run the risk of stagnating if they keep using ideas from the past. They need to balance nostalgia with innovation (ref 2). Many well-known British brands such as M&S have recently focused their marketing and design strategies on a nostalgic theme. The aim of this dissertation is to explore the different ways in which designers have used visual ideas from the past in a persuasive manner, at the same time considering if designers could have been more innovative with their design approach by producing original and fresh ideas.

I will start with a broad overview defining what is branding, heritage and nostalgia, looking at the struggle of brands during the current recession, including the demise of 'Woolworths' and "faux" heritages brands. The next chapter will focus on Heritage Brands and ways in which they have recently used nostalgic themes in their advertising. This chapter will be sub divided into Heritage Brands- Department Stores Celebration of their Anniversary, Iconic British Heritage Brands that have used nostalgic campaigns looking back to the 1980s, Everyday British and American Brands and finally British Heritage Retail Brands. The key cases I will be investigating regarding heritage will be M&S and Selfridges, Cadburys and Virgin Atlantic, Hovis and Kelloggs, and finally Aquascutum and Burberry.

Throughout the chapters I will compare brands and analyse the elements that the brands have used to produce a retro or nostalgic feel by the use of colour, type, illustrations and innovative content. The conclusion will be an overall summary of my findings including my personal opinion on whether I believe this nostalgic approach is justified even if there has been a lack of original design ideas and innovation.

Chapter 1- Nostalgia in Branding

Wally Olins, one of the most respected practitioners of branding and corporate identity has described a brand in its most simplistic descriptions as "an organisation, or a product, or service with a personality" (reference 3)

David Aaker also sees branding as the main source of the organisation's success and strategy. "The brand being not just a service or a product, but an organisation, a symbol, a person. (reference). He believes that a brand personality is paramount, used to affirm a consumer's identity. He quotes the example of a Harley Davidson motorcycle rider. He might feel more macho, and freer of a confining job and its attendant lifestyle. He also added A brand without personality, not unlike a person, lacks friends and may be easily overlooked".(REF 4)

"Brand experience is a mixture of sensations, responses and feelings created as a result of contact with any brand related activity. This can be anything from design, identity, packaging, communications or environments". (re ence5fer). Clearly branding is vital to a company's survival, even more so in an economic downturn.

The Daily Telegraph dated 26/11/08 reported the demise of Woolworths with the announcement that "In the space of forty minutes Britain's high streets changed forever". (reference 6). Woolworths was remembered as a nostalgic brand, evoking childhood memories. Woolworths had existed since 1909 and had survived the Depression, two World Wars and yet in 2008 could not even be sold for the price of a pound. (reference 7). The majority of its profits being made in the run up to Christmas. Dr S Dacko, marketing expert at Warwick University has questioned whether the store was ever destined to survive despite the recession.(reference 8). He blamed the threat of online retailers plus issues with the range of products and it's positioning with competitors. Woolworths was the biggest name amongst thousands who did not survive the recession. Woolworths could have played on their heritage past by using nostalgic advertising during the recession, this may have altered their future. The brand name was resurrected in the name of "Wellworths" when a former Dorchester employee set up a new store in the old site, selling a selected assortment of the old, more profitable products, with some success.

Professors of marketing have all identified the increasing use of nostalgia in advertising. Nostalgic themes tap into the fabric of recollection, by the use of visual or verbal nostalgic feelings.(ref 9) Holbrook and Schindler state that this can be evoked by any object and may well be an idealistic version of previous events. The feelings may have been experienced personally or historically. Typically in times of crisis, such as an economic downturn, consumers will seek comfort and security by remembering the past, turning to brands they trust. (ref 10).

Hardly surprising therefore, nostalgic marketing is being employed by brands as a survival tool. Consumers are worried about the economy, terrorism, global warming and are seeking comfort and security. Nostalgic brands are encouraging people to look back to their childhoods to give them this perceived idealized emotion, turning to brands that they trust in troubled times.

Robert Opie director of Museum of Brands has commented that during difficult times such as recession "We like to have things around us that are well known and trusted and give us the feeling that the world is safe". With this in mind companies have been tapping into their past, often to celebrate an anniversary, to harness this powerful emotion. (reference 11).

Both heritage brands and non-heritage brands use nostalgia in advertising. Heritage brands are usually old established, traditional brands which have a meaningful past, with a quality, trustworthy and caring image such as M&S. However the brand 'Baileys' has utlised the heritage theme by inventing an older Irish connection in their brand identity. Baileys Irish cream is an example of a "brand impostor" which Wally Olins refers to as a 'fantasy' brand. Baileys is the world's best selling brand of its type. Although produced in Ireland with Irish ingredients, this is not a traditional Irish beverage. R&A Bailey is non-existent, a multi-national drinks company invented the name; there is no Mr or Mrs Bailey despite the flourishing signature on the label. The past advertising campaigns and Web Design focus on the complete nostalgic image of Ireland as the Emerald Isle, where we are told that in the beginning Bailey's was the brainchild of R&A Bailey. We are then invited to meet the cows and Joe the farmer, all against a backdrop of rolling green meadows, with birds singing, and butterflies fluttering in the sun (Fig 16). There are Celtic symbols and strong blue and intense green colouring, Baileys' bottle having a vintage look with dark glass and the maker's stamp embossed. Baileys' heritage dates back to 1974, however by using embossed lettering and a bulbous shaped bottle gives the impression of an old whiskey bottle of the late 1800s. Even though Baileys isn't such an old heritage company as it purports, the brand still has heritage, trading on its Irish roots. Given the target audience of young people, Baileys is seen as a modern young drink, the older heritage possibly not being significant.

In recession and in general nostalgic branding is not without its critics. 'Creative Brand Marketing' warns that the "right balance between the old and the new" is vital (reference 12).

In June 2009 the director of DDB advertising agency, announced that the British nostalgia trend was wearing thin and warned of a backlash. "I'm beginning to groan whenever a sepia-tinted ad comes on, rehashing another load of old footage" (reference 13).

It could be said that nostalgia is effective in advertising as it makes consumers relate to past memories however brands cannot remain stagnant and should be creatively looking to the future. Successful nostalgic advertising has to have a modern twist so it doesn't appear old-fashioned and dated.

Chapter 2- Heritage Brands in 21st Century

Department Stores Anniversaries

In 2009 several brands celebrated anniversaries. Two well know UK department stores, Marks and Spencer who celebrated their 125th and Selfridges their 100th anniversary are examples of heritage brands.

Marks and Spencer was founded in 1884 by a Polish immigrant, Michael Marks, who later paired up with Tom Spencer to launch the Marks and Spencer Penny Bazaar in 1894. Marks and Spencer focused on these Penny Bazaar roots to launch an advertising campaign to celebrate its 125th anniversary in May 2009.

Twiggy, icon of the 1960s, stars in the campaign and tells the story of the store. She takes a nostalgic look back from the origins. The scene opens with Twiggy walking through the market, as it would have looked in 1884. It is very atmospheric with barrows, market stalls, a busy atmosphere with barrow boys cheekily calling her name. Twiggy is wearing modern clothes with an eye-catching woollen scarf and a lavender coat; according to colour psychology, light purple representing nostalgic feelings and romance.

She then moves through the ages showcasing all the achievements reminding the viewer how innovative the store has been by pioneering such items as machine washable suits, sell by dates of the 1970s and well fitted ladies underwear. The commercial finishes in modern times with Twiggy standing outside a modern M&S store (Fig 1).

The advertising campaign continued in all the high street stores with buntings, maypoles and market stalls on display featuring iconic clothing from the 1930s and 1940s compounding the nostalgic theme. Items were also sold for a penny, adding to the 'Penny Bazaar' market feel.

There was a series of magazine and billboard ads, one of these featured the model Erin O Connor boarding a train that looks like the Orient Express. There is steam rising and classic gold/brass fittings on the train. The colours being black, dark grey, dark blue, symbolising mystery and style and appearing very provocative, very nostalgic with a 1930s hairstyle. Her eyes looking downwards all adding to the atmosphere, steam enveloping her face (Fig 2).

The campaign carried the strap line "Quality worth every penny"(reference 14). The executive director of M&S re-enforced the message of innovation confirming that "it was at the heart of our business" (reference 15); Constantly looking for solutions which would make life easier for the consumer. Marks and Spencer have continued with their Penny Bazaar theme, creating a vintage style cookery range for Christmas. The justification is that shareholders need returns on their investments and nostalgia sells.

This was a very traditional campaign, looking back to the "good old days" from the late 1800s, with the 'Marks' Penny Bazaar' stall with everything only a penny. The advertisement was an idealised nostalgic emotional link to the past when everything was perceived to be "better".

In comparison Selfridges adopted a contemporary rather than traditional approach for their campaign. During May 2009, Selfridges on Oxford Street celebrated their 100th Anniversary. Selfridges was founded by the flamboyant American businessman Henry Gordon Selfridge. It was the first dedicated department store to be built in London, opening with a massive advertising campaign which included the display of Louis Bleriot's first cross channel monoplane. Despite the Depression of the 1930s and two World Wars Selfridges has remained at the forefront of the retail industry. The current owners, Canadian Galen Weston and family, pride themselves in continuing where Henry Selfridge left off, with the mantra of providing an inspiring, innovative shopping experience, this is all part of the beliefs of the Selfridge brand (ref 16).

During the anniversary celebrations the Oxford Street canopy was emblazoned with giant neon yellow lettering stating "Open to the World since 1909"(Fig 3). This phrase was inspired by the original press ad of Selfridges' opening day in March 1909. The neon letters were displayed under the iconic 1931 sculpture "Queen of Time". All this gave the impression of stepping back in time. The whole theme of the campaign was dedicated to Selfridges Pantone 109 Yellow which was produced by the company 'Pantone' in 1963. Just as Cadburys' brand colour is purple Selfridges is iconic yellow. Yellow is associated with the sun producing energy, cheerfulness and optimism.

The window displays combined the old with the new. There was a 1920s boudoir display, a 1930s football display; these were positioned next to a mountain of yellow bananas with legs poking out from the side. The whole concept was quirky. One display featured female mannequins dressed in provocative clothing, standing next to a male mannequin with hundreds of inflated rubber gloves attached (Fig 4). Marks and Spencer also displayed vintage clothing, as part of the nostalgic feeling, but Selfridges' approach, by mixing the old with the new, could be seen as more innovative and exciting, moving the brand into the future whilst still reminding consumers of Selfridges' heritage.

Inside the store the centre of the atrium was filled with thousands of yellow paper planes, creating a futuristic and surreal atmosphere, which contrasted with M&S' traditional buntings and maypole, evoking past times.

The lower level featured an exhibition of the history of Selfridges with old footage and videos from their past creating a nostalgic atmosphere; this was an in-store moving image display which can be compared with Marks and Spencer's 'Penny Bazaar' television advertisement, where Twiggy goes back to 1894 moving through time to the present day.

Selfridges wanted to create a "Big Yellow Festival" throughout the month, with music, circus activities and roller skaters to entertain the shoppers in 1909 style with seven "Selfridgettes" dressed in exclusively designed Giles Deacon dresses, serving tea and entertaining the shoppers.

There was a range of goods sold throughout the store all exclusively produced in the iconic yellow. A special yellow vodka, special edition yellow designer bags and dresses, converse leather sneakers, yellow Blackberry's selling for £1000, Levis 501's with a yellow patch priced at £250 (Fig 5). Selfridges celebrated their anniversary by selling extravagant and costly limited edition items compared to M&S promoting the store by selling products for a penny.

Amongst the archive images was a display of Selfridge carrier bags throughout the ages; these bags were then recreated to form a huge modernistic sculpture. The Golden Book was also on display signed by authors who had launched their books at Selfridges. These included Aldous Huxley, Enid Blyton, and Joanna Trollope. Also on show was the famous glass table where famous celebrities signed their names with a diamond pen, such names as Elizabeth Taylor. These past celebrity associations created a nostalgic effect.

The visual display then took on a surreal futuristic theme transporting to the year 2109. The displays conceptualised what products the store may be selling in 100 years time, they were depicted as the A-Z of 2109. The letter A, for air, was a bizarre cycle helmet that inflated on impact. Z was zero gravity paint and showed an upturned paint pot, all with the notion of future whimsical living. The letter X was left blank as a competition idea for the public.

The idea was completely different from M&S who left Twiggy in the current time. This futuristic view balanced with visual imagery from the past was hailed as an innovative success for Selfridges. Marks and Spencer looked back more towards the past, showcasing their achievements culminating with a replica of the original Penny Bazaar. Selfridges, on the other hand, although tapping into their archives delivered a campaign of then, now and the future, with classic advertising and logo, futuristic quirky items, all submerged in their famous iconic yellow. The Weston family have sought to re-establish the Selfridge brand where the original Henry Gordon Selfridge's mantra of "Develop imagination, throw away routine". (reference 17).

Selfridges and Marks and Spencers' anniversaries were celebrated during the recession. Selfridges' approach was extravagant, bright, quirky and very contemporary but avoiding the influence of the current climate of recession; whereas Marks and Spencer was more traditional and old-fashioned. By using the idea of saving money and looking back to "the good old days" with their in-store campaign, selling a large number of products for a penny each, over a few days, which connected with budget conscious consumers.

It could be said that Selfridges nostalgic campaign was more creative and eye-catching looking to the future compared to the M&S campaign which concentrated more on looking back to the past.

British Heritage Brands using 1980s nostalgic campaigns

Nostalgia is looking back on something with fond memories of a former time in one's life. Both Cadbury's and Virgin Atlantic have used nostalgic advertising to evoke memories of the 1980s during the recession.

The story of Cadbury began as long ago as 1831 when John Cadbury sold drinking chocolate on the streets of Birmingham, He formed a partnership with his brother Benjamin and opened an office in London in 1854 receiving a Royal Warrant as manufacturers of cocoa and chocolate to Queen Victoria. In 1878 John Cadburys' sons George and Richard opened the Bourneville chocolate factory in several acres of countryside on the outskirts of Birmingham. Land was also purchased close by to house the workers in decent conditions, a model village. The Cadbury family were all Quakers; therefore there were no public houses on the estate. The factory went from strength to strength over the generations and merged with the drinks company Schweppes in 1989.

In 2006 the company went through a crisis when a salmonella bacteria was found in chocolate bars. This was followed by a further disaster in the following year when the company was fined for the omission in the label printing process, failing to warn of dangers regarding nuts in the production process.

The following year Cadbury announced the re-launch of their famous Wispa bar that was originally on sale in 1983. The re-launch was due entirely to consumer pressure from on line petitions and campaigns from social networking sites. The "Bring back Wispa" groups were formed in their thousands.

Cadbury hoped that the chocolate bar would be a success as a re-launch, due to the nostalgia that consumers felt for a chocolate bar they remembered from their childhood. The target audience was therefore focused on the20-35 year old age group who grew up in the 80s when the bar was first produced (Fig 6). The online campaign 'Bring Back Wispa' was extremely successful, giving consumers a say in the brand. The wispa bar reminds me of my childhood evoking happy nostalgic memories of the 1980s. Robert Opie, Brand Historian, agreed with Cadbury's views that consumers have emotional attachments for childhood pleasures. "We have a great affection for the treats of our childhood. Knowing that a much-loved brand from our past will be making a comeback is bound to titillate the memory buds". (ref 18)

The re-launch was a success with more than 20m bars being sold in eight weeks, proving and that consumers had regained confidence in the Cadbury brand. (Ref 19)

In January 2009 an advert from Cadbury's fictitious and comical 'Glass and a half Full Productions' produced the quirky 'Eyebrows' advertisement. The scene opens with two siblings neatly dressed, hair well combed, sitting in a photography studio, it could well be a school photograph. When the photographer leaves the shot, the boy, using his watch, plays an electro tune of the 80s, 'Don't stop the rock' by Freestyle. (Fig 7). The children, keeping in time with the music, proceed with an almost choreographed routine of a bizarre eyebrow dance. The children wearing the trademark Cadbury purple colour. The marketing Consultants brief was that of humour and entertainment. One of Cadbury's marketing directors commented that the ad was about "losing yourself, embracing that moment of joy....after all, everybody remembers pulling a silly face or getting up to no good as a child when backs were turned"(reference 20). The advertisement was very amusing and quirky with everyone trying to copy the eyebrow movement.

In March of 2009, the nostalgic campaign continued when Cadbury re- introduced the 1980's Caramel Bunny with a complete new look. The rabbit was given a curvaceous figure and makeup for the "Still Got it" campaign.

Colours used were still the Cadbury purple and yellow, the rabbit's glamorous minidress being designed by Giles Deacon but inspired by the iconic Jessica Rabbit in cut and by the Caramel Nibbles in print. (Ref) (Fig 8 and 9). The colours are bolder and brighter than the original Caramel Bunny, with flowing lines. Cadbury CEO has remarked, "We have looked to past, but with future trends in mind" "It brings the rabbit back in a creative way". (reference 21).

The Cadburys campaigns discussed are based on the 1980s with nostalgic references of this era. Another brand which have also based their nostalgic campaign on this decade is Virgin Atlantic.

British entrepreneur Richard Branson launched the Virgin Brand in 1984. To celebrate its official 25th Birthday a six million advertising campaign was launched to mark this event.

The music that was used in the commercial was 'Relax' by Frankie Goes to Hollywood, this was an immediate transportation link to the 1980s. Cadbury's also used music from the 1980s for the 'eyebrows' advertisement. The music used in both of these commercials gave a nostalgic link to that era.

Virgin's TV ad represented the original Virgin crew on the inaugural flight to New York in 1984. The first shot opens with a newspaper headline from 'The Sun' referring to the miners' strike. A grey suited man in his twenties then appears, carrying a large brick like mobile phone, which he drops as soon as he sees one of the airhostesses from Virgin. Their bright 1980s uniforms are a dazzling red, sharp shoulder pads, gold buttons. Virgins use of their trademark colour red links in with the use of Cadburys brand colour purple in their 'Eyebrow" advertisement contrasting with the dull backgrounds.

In Virgin's advertisement the vivid colours contrast with the colourless and bland airport surroundings. Airport staff from other airlines are shown in grey, black or white with old fashioned hair styles, all looking very plain in contrast to the bright 'Virgin' red. The camera focuses on the girl's legs and bright red stiletto heeled shoes. They walk through the airport in complete marching time to the music, sparkling teeth, glossy hair and crimson lips. The pilot is handsome, dressed in calming blue, surrounded by hostesses in scarlet red uniforms.

The transportation back to the 1980s is heightened by the appearance of items such as an Asteroids video game and a Rubik's cube. Onlookers stare in disbelief at the entourage, one man sitting outside Wimpy's whilst mesmerised by the scene. At the end of the advert the words appear "still red hot". Two men using other airlines remark that they either need to change their tickets or their job. A shot of a female wearing a bright red swimsuit 'The Flying Lady' painted on the outside of a Virgin 747 plane ends the ad (Fig 10).

Branson also organised a flight to include himself, 80s celebrities such as fashion designer Vivienne Westwood and former cricketer Sir Ian Botham; adding to the nostalgic theme of the era. The plane was aptly named 'Birthday Girl'.

Other magazine advertisements following the video use the same theme.

The Advertising Standards Authority received twenty-nine complaints that the ad and some press advertising were sexist, arguing that the attractive female crew were being promoted as the main reason for choosing Virgin Airlines. (ref 22).

Steve Ridgway, chief executive of Virgin, has answered the critics by arguing that the campaign is fun loving, intended to raise spirits in the current downturn, nostalgic but looking to the future with optimism.(ref 23)

The Cadburys and Virgin campaigns were humorous, attempting to boost moral during the recession, with the Cadbury's 'Eyebrows' advert being an award winning ad in 2009. Both brands were fun and creative but in different ways. Cadbury's ad was childlike and surreal unlike Virgin's advert which was aimed at an older audience and was criticised as sexist. Virgin's advertisement was slightly risky, knowing there would be criticism. Cadbury's re-launch of the bunny had a sexy makeover, however this was seen as humorous and not sexist. Cadbury and Virgin used imagery and music from the 80s to persuade consumers, this did not suppress design creativity as they were both creative, using humour in different ways.


During the recession heritage brands people turn to everyday trusted and wholesome brands, often based on their childhood experiences. Both Hovis and Kelloggs have used nostalgia to reinforce their heritage brands. Hovis is a traditional British heritage brand and Kelloggs an American heritage brand.

Hovis started life in Britain in 1886 having the name 'Smiths Patent Germ Flour', it changed its name to Hovis in 1890 as a result of a competition. The name is derived from the Latin 'Hominis Vis' which roughly translates as 'Strength of man'. The bread then received the backing of the medical profession and was hailed as an indigestion cure, also being supplied to the Royal Household. The familiar Hovis name was then moulded into the side of the loaf to protect its identity.

Due to flagging sales in bread Hovis embarked on a nostalgic advertising campaign of epic proportions in a cinematic length video lasting over two minutes. The advert starts in 1886 with a boy delivering a loaf of Hovis bread. He then proceeds through time, his clothes changing, showing the highs and lows of British History. There is the First World War, the suffragette movement, the first motorcar, the Second World War, The Coronation, then the swinging sixties, the World Cup, the miners strike, concluding with Millennium fireworks (Fig 11).

The video is atmospheric, creating waves of emotion, nostalgia and pride. The loaf of bread arrives in the current time, safely; the ad ends with the line "as good as it's always been" (reference 24). The nostalgic atmosphere is created by lots of visual imagery, with the streets celebration coronation parties having lots of colourful buntings. The World Wars have all the sound effects together, with a famous voice over of Winston Churchills' famous 'fighting on the beaches' speech.

The planning director of the Ad agency MCBD remarked that the ad contained a strong 'psychological element' (reference 25). The agency recognised the brand heritage of Hovis, customers needed the comfort of a trusted brand in hard economic times. There was a play on the trusted and wholesome image, related to consumers' need to remember the past when Britain was Great, full of patriotism. The creative director of the campaign had commented on the importance of the boy being transported to the present day, remarking that "if he had stopped running half way through the ad would have been self indulgent. The delivery boy had to been seen in the current age, to bring the ad into modern times, with the brand message "just as important now as it has ever been". (reference 26). He saw this as an innovative twist to the ad. The nostalgic marketing strategy seems to be working from a commercial aspect. After the 'Go on lad' campaign the sales of Hovis bread increased by 3.5% (reference 27). In September 2009 the ad won an award for recognition of the 'UK's most creative advertisement'.

Kellogg's also celebrated its heritage and the work of its founder in a new advertising campaign.

Will Kellogg founded the 'Battle Creek Toasted Corn Flake Company' in 1906 after breaking a partnership with his brother. The toasted cornflake was very popular on the American breakfast table. The brand name was changed to 'Kelloggs' in the 1920's, becoming very famous for its nutritional content. In 1930 the Kellogg foundation was created which assisted with the provision of medical care globally. The big red Kelloggs signature was recognised throughout the world.

In 2008 Kelloggs began an advertising campaign harking back to its roots, emphasising the nutritional content at a fairly low cost. Kelloggs were also aware that its competitors were producing their own cornflakes more cheaply. The idea of a trusted heritage brand, offering nutritional re-assurance needed to be re-affirmed.

Thus the narrative of the Kellogg signature became fundamental for the campaign. One advertisement revealed the original black Kellogg signature forming into the contemporary famous logo. Kellogg originally signed every box of his cornflakes to guarantee the quality. This idea then became the main thrust of a TV advertisement. This focused on an animated figure representing Will Kellogg examining corn through a magnifying glass to check its nutritional quality. Will Kellogg then proceeded to sign his name on the instantly recognisable box with the bright red cockerel (Fig 12). The tagline at the end of the ad reminds us of the authenticity of having the trusted signature on the box, warning if the signature is missing then it is not genuine.

The whole Kelloggs campaign is centred on the trusted brand name providing comfort and trust, childhood memories and an emotional attachment to the brand.

Unlike the Hovis Ad there is little attempt to bring into the modern age. The animated Kellogg character is quirky, quite different from the real life bread delivery Hovis boy. Kelloggs relies on the brand promise of healthy nutrition, only trusting the genuine article. The red cockerel appears to have had a more modern makeover, but apart from this the heritage message remains unaltered, just having very high nutritional standards.

At the time of writing Kelloggs is experimenting with the idea of individually monogrammed cornflakes with the Kellogg signature lasered onto the flake to show that it is the authentic, adding to the nostalgia by reminding consumers of the famous brand name, not only on the box but on every flake. Both brands have used different nostalgic themes to persuade consumers. Hovis have used a nostalgic, patriotic approach, reminding the consumer of key moments in history. Whereas Kelloggs have concentrated on the famous Kelloggs signature on the box, guaranteeing authenticity and quality.

Nostalgia has worked for Kelloggs and Hovis brands with consumers seeking the comfort food factor and security of a trusted brand. Even though the advertisements are less innovative, the use of heritage and tradition work for them, in particular in times of recession.


Aquascutum and Burberry are both well-known British retail brands with a rich heritage. Due to the recession in 2008/09 both brands undertook campaigns to revitalise and refresh their brand image.

Mayfair tailor 'John Emery' founded the company Aquascutum in 1851. He produced the first waterproof wool used to make coats for British army officers serving in the Crimean War. He designed a coat for King Edward V11, the label creating a coat in the famous Prince of Wales check. Famous customers have included the Queen Mother, Sophia Loren, Humphrey Bogart to name but a few. The company became known as Aquascutum, a name derived from the Latin for water and shield. His fabric was considered innovative due to its shower proof quality.

The company has struggled as a result of the recession. In the Autumn and Winter campaign of 2009 Aquascutum decided to employ the photographer Tim Walker to try and re-vitalise the brand image.

From the archives an image was found of Eartha Kitt standing in Trafalgar Square, complete with pigeons and cascading fountain, wearing an Aquascutum mackintosh. `In the new campaign the models used were Malgosia Bela and Andy MacGregor. The nostalgia was enhanced by the historical location, the lions at Trafalgar Square, the fountain. There was a sense of stepping back in time as in the original 1955 photographs. The campaign was nostalgic and very atmospheric, in monochrome, the couple however, looking quite bohemian, the male dark, bearded, longhaired, powerful and mysterious (Fig 13), the female, ethereal with a black turban, doves on top of her head (Fig 14). The images although nostalgic were quite quirky and yet playing on the British Heritage- splashing in Trafalgar Square, wearing Aquascutum coats, the water cascading down in the fountains, producing a foaming backdrop in a quintessential British setting.

The luxury brand Burberry was founded a few years later in 1856 by Thomas Burberry, a draper's apprentice from Basingstoke. The brand became famous for its quality and innovation, and in 1870 became an Emporium, a large retail shop offering a wide variety of merchandise. In 1880 the company produced the material gabardine and opened a shop in the west end a few years later. The Burberry trench coat was used by officers in the Boer War. Amundsen the Norwegian explorer wore Burberry when he conquered the South Pole in 1911. In 1920 the famous Burberry check was created. Royal Patronage followed in later years.

In the summer of 2008 Burberry renewed the focus on their brand as their identity faced problems. The iconic Burberry check had saturated the market, being synonymous with a 'Chav' or downmarket image. Photographer Mario Testino was assigned, also the actor Sam Riley. Inspiration for the campaign was taken from the Northern artist L. S. Lowry, who was famous for his moody, impoverished paintings, typical at the time of Northern working class in drab surroundings. Testino's photographs were taken in deserted northern woodlands, atmospheric, misty, very melancholy, with nostalgic, sombre, black and white images (Fig 15).

Both Burberry and Aquascutum have very similar heritage backgrounds but their nostalgic campaigns have been interestingly different. Aquascutum delved into their archives, choosing a famous celebrity from the past and a heritage location. On the other hand Burberry decided to choose an artist from the past, renowned for painting working class scenes. The location was very unglamorous, with deserted forests, as apposed to Aquascutum's imposing, historical, Trafalgar square location. Both brands use nostalgic black and white photography, atmosphere and imagery being enhanced by water cascading or early morning mist. Aquascutum reinforced its luxury label with their images/location, whereas Burberry appeared to highlight the difference. Aquascutum was a bright, happy scene with birds flying around a young couple. Burberry however was sombre, melancholy and mysterious. In their own ways both were innovative and highlighted their rich brand heritage, in successful nostalgic campaigns.

Robert Opie believed that brands look to the past for inspiration, especially to celebrate an anniversary, tapping into their archives. The Aquascutum campaign centred on an old 1950's photograph from their past. The Burberry Campaign took inspiration from the artist L.S Lowry. Both campaigns were successfully executed and very creative.


The methods employed by designers to create nostalgic feelings, have been successfully created by designers as highlighted by the chosen case studies. This has been depicted by the use of visual imagery from the past such as the Hovis delivery boy, walking through the ages, showing historical events. Also the Penny Bazaar of 1884 from M&S to modern times. The Virgin Atlantic 1980's snapshot of the time showing items such as the Rubik cube and an original mobile phone. The dramatic use of colour, the most obvious example being Selfridges iconic 109 Pantone Yellow, which was used throughout the campaign and the ethereal monochrome effect of the Burberry and Aquascutum campaign. Sounds from the past have also played a major part to create a recollection of the nostalgic past. Virgin Atlantic's 80's music and Cadburys are clever exponents. Hovis' use of the Winston Churchill's war speech is another example. Typography from the past, the best example being Selfridges's neon sign and also Kellogg's use of the famous Signature trademark.

Robert Jones of Wolff Olins has commented on the stagnation effect of the continual use of ideas from the past, warning that designers need to balance nostalgia with innovation, otherwise this will suppress design creativity. In all of the chosen case studies the marketing companies have claimed to be innovative in their campaigns. It would seem that this is correct to a more or lesser degree. Marks and Spencer and Hovis appear to have concentrated more on the past in a rather sentimental and pastiche manner. Kelloggs concentrated on their brand name with little mention of the present time, apart from their ingredients, but this traditional image seems to work for them. Virgin Atlantic and Cadburys showed a courage and self-belief in their brand, at times not even mentioning their products in an obvious way. Virgin in particular took a big risk in their tongue in cheek approach, with accusations of sexism. Nevertheless the ads got people talking.

The campaign that stands out most off all from my own perspective is the Selfridges 100th anniversary. The past was celebrated in theatrical and entertaining fashion, yet looked forward with optimism to the next 100 years.

The idea of nostalgia is always prevalent, however even successful nostalgia brands need to look forward to the future with caution. Everyone was really sad when Woolworths closed their doors but the truth is consumers turn their backs and shopped elsewhere.

The recession has encouraged the use of nostalgia in advertising and according to 'Marketing Magazine', nostalgia advertising has been identified as the number one trend in 2009 in a bid to reassure consumers in the uncertain times of financial crisis. (ref 28).

The dictionary definition of the world creative is 'originality of thought, showing imagination' similarly the definition of innovation is 'something newly introduced'. Artists have always taken inspiration from the past; this has been going on for centuries. Choosing certain elements from the past but challenging them with innovation, focusing on the present and the future can only create fresh creative visions. The words of the founder of Selfridges still have a profound relevance today "develop imagination, throw away routine".


  1. Packaging News, 5 May 2009 "Is Nostalgia important to building a brand?" article by Robert Opie available at [Accessed 27/10/09]
  2. Financial Times, 29 April 2009, Global Brands, 'The retro brand wagon rolls in' article by Emma Jacobs, available at [Accessed 27/10/09]
  3. Building Strong Brands, 1996, David Aaker available at [Accessed 23/1/10]
  4. Journal of Marketing, 'Brand Experience:What is it? How is it measured? Does it affect loyalty'.J Brakus et al published 5/1/2009. available at [Accessed 1/11/2009]
  5. The Daily Telegraph, 26/11/08,Woolworths and MFI collapse " Is this the end of the High Street? Article by Gordon Rayner available at [Accessed 1/11/2009]
  6. The Daily Telegraph, 26/11/08, ibid
  7. Sunday Mercury Newspaper, 1/11/09, 'Is there life after Woolies?' article by Sophie Cross,page 24,dated 1/1109.
  8. Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 32 2005, by S. Baker et al, p. 402 'My Favourite Memories' Recreating emotions and memories through cooking, available at [Accessed 27/10/09]
  9. Advances in Consumer Research, Volume 32 2005, by S. Baker et al, ibid p.402
  10. Packaging News, 5/5/09, op cit page unknown
  11. 'Nostalgia Brands, a retro re-hash or a recession comfort blanket?' comments by 'Xposure' Marketing Graphic Design Company, 12/3/09, available at [Accessed 27/10/09]
  12. Marketing Magazine, 23/6/09, by Susan Bashford, 'Will "Comfort Brands" prosper in hard times', available at [Accessed 7/11/09]
  13. Marketing News UTalk Marketing, 18/05/09, 'Twiggy fronts new Marks and Spencer advert', available at [Accessed 7/11/09]
  14. Marketing News UTalk Marketing, 18/5/09 ibid
  15. Going Back to Brand Roots, 19/11/09, article Sophie Maxwell, lecturer London Central St Martins also head of Creative Insight, available at [Accessed 9/11/09]
  16. Going Back to Brand Roots, 19/11/09 ibid
  17. Talking Retail, The hub for grocery retail, "Cadburys to revive Wispa chocolate bar for limited period", news item 18/8/07, Cadbury Trebor Bassett, available at [Accessed 23/11/09]
  18. Simon Bowess 'Cadbury beats targets as sales of chocolate recover', 12/12/07, available at [Accessed 07/01/10]
  19. 'Cadbury's add raises an eyebrow', article by Mark Sweney, 23/0109, available at [Accessed 01/11/09]
  20. The Grocer- article by Alex Beckett, 28/2/09, "Cadbury turns Caramel rabbit into a bunny girl", available at [Accessed 11/11/09]
  21. The Guardian 9/2/09, "Virgin ad prompts complaints of sexism" article by Mark Sweney available at [Accessed 9/11/09]
  22. Airlines news item published 5/1/09, unknown "Virgin Atlantic all set to Celebrate 25th Anniversary" available at [Accessed 9/11/09]
  23. The Guardian, article by L.Holmwood 8/9/08, Hovis launches 'History of Britain birthday adverts' available at [Accessed 26/10/09]
  24. Sky News, 13/5/09, 'Advertisers Take a Trip Down Nostalgia Lane' by Paul Brennan, available at [Accessed 9/11/09]
  25. Brand Republic; Close up, 20/2/09, 'advertising welcomes a new age of nostalgia' available at [Accessed 09/11/09]
  26. Marketing Magazine, 23/06/09 op cit
  27. Marketing Magazine, 'Top Five Consumer Trends in 2009', article by Nicola Clark, 15/12/09, available at [Accessed 29/12/09]

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