Monday, June 23, 2014
Recently, AutoTrader.com launched a series of ads featuring the original Dukes of Hazard stars--not the actors who played those characters in the big budget reboot from a few years back. AutoTrader’s campaign is fun and memorable, and plays off themes Dukes fans will love, but you have to wonder: Have we broken the industry?
When was the last time a major film studio backed an exciting new franchise? Godzilla, Star Trek, Josie and her Pussycats…you’ve seen it all before. And it’s not just the pulp! Studio execs haven’t met a Shakespeare or Jane Austen rewrite or spin-off they couldn't throw a huge budget and a pile of A-listers at.
Be honest: Every time you see a new trailer for an upcoming I dream of Jeannie or Voltron reboot, you worry nothing new will ever be funded. Hollywood has dusted off and propped up all the good ol’ days favorites, and we all know it’s just plain laziness.
If we all agree this strategy is sub-par, why are we marketers relying on lazy appeals to the characters and products we outgrew decades ago?
The short answer is nostalgia has worked pretty well for many brands. Sure, there are some disaster stories, like Nintendo’s downward spiral, propelled by appeals to people who love characters created 20 years ago.
For the most part, though, we love seeing our old favorites re-imagined and sporting the latest brands. Blame it on whatever suits you:
• Wistful longing for better days
• Regret over the loss of our 9/11 or pre American Idol innocence
• Acceptance of the fact Hannah-Barbera is relevant in any context
As long as our audience keeps rewarding our efforts to associate everything new with anything old, there seems to be no reason for the marketing industry to move on from lazy, cloying sentiment. We've become reliable machines, chugging along and doing the same things we've done for 20 years.