Vintage Advertising – A Great Marketing Technique For Brands?

“Nostalgia is a time machine. An experience we don’t have access to in the present. It transports us to a time we want to live again”
Parixit Bhattacharya, CCO, TBWA\India.

The brands that have appropriately determined the specific amount of nostalgia to put into their advertising for it to hit its target audience in all the right ways, have never looked back. Vintage advertising or marketing is all about appealing to the sentimental side of the audience by reminding them of the good, old days. If done correctly, vintage or old school marketing can do wonders for a brand’s reach and awareness.
Vintage marketing consists of generations-old genres and styles, some of which are still relevant today. Taking the decade-old elements and connecting them with your new-age product in a positive light is what vintage marketing is all about.

What do all good Vintage Ads have in common?

Nostalgia. The feeling of nostalgia has to be palpable in a good, vintage advertisement. Your advertisement could be talking about an old concept but if no one remembers it or relates to it, it won’t be called a good vintage marketing strategy. Nostalgia is the basic, key element of old-school marketing. The advertisement has to take the audience back; it has to make them wonder about the good, old days when life was so easy and simple. That’s precisely why people love feeling nostalgic.

old ads

When something reminds you of your childhood and the days gone by, you want to hold on to that feeling for as long as you can. That’s precisely what a good vintage advertising strategy aims to do. The heart holds on to memories more than anything, so any marketing strategy that plays on that has a good chance of being heard and acknowledged. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what you do, people in general love reminiscing about the days of the past. It makes them feel significant and shows them how far they’ve come.

The Power of Nostalgia

“Nostalgia is comfort food. It feels good and fond memories are linked to it. There is a deeper emotional glue. Brands tap into it to help the audience remember their best memories from the past. ”
– Debashish Ghosh, National Creative Director, 22feet Tribal Worldwide

The human mind associates various emotions with different time periods and places in our past; even the smallest reminders can elicit a sense of foreboding and transport you back to a specific day of your now-gone childhood. Nostalgia invokes a powerful feeling of connection between people from the same generation. Many brands have recognised the power nostalgia has over people, as well as how frequently and intensely we crave it. Nostalgia marketing is one type of emotional marketing that results in people remembering happy memories. Brands that apply nostalgia efficiently and ethically can excite positive emotions in the target audience. It’s the feeling that helps brands connect their brand’s ideas and purpose to things of the past, which induces the audience to look closely at that product or service.

What are some of the most important characteristics of Vintage Marketing?

Although one of the more invisible elements of vintage advertising is the feeling of nostalgia that has to come with it, the visible elements are what make a vintage ad recognizable from afar, as it should be. There are some key elements and styles that distinguish a vintage advertisement. It’s not known to be subtle, and for good reason. A vintage advertisement possesses the power to throw you off your original trail of thought. Starting from the font to the memorable slogan, the colors, the text and right down to its design, a vintage ad is striking, challenging and high-spirited.

1. Bold, catchy headlines

Old advertisements always had bold and catchy headlines with limited yet vivid fonts. The headlines are almost daring you to come closer and try the advertised product or service. A bold, attention-grabbing headline that’s powerful and memorable.

2. Memorable Slogans & Taglines

It stays true to the marketing style of all ages, a meaningful slogan increases the chance of a product getting the required attention compared to a vague one. Old advertisements contained strong and meaningful slogans to acquire focus. A tagline that is memorable, on-brand and sticks.

3. Long & detailed copy


Vintage advertisements had long copies explaining the product, its features and benefits in elaborate detail. Although today’s marketing style is to use as little text as possible, old advertisements were not afraid to print large paragraphs of text elucidating everything about the product.

4. Creative use of color

The best thing about old advertisements is their vibrant colors. The fearless use of colors not only makes the advertisements highly eye-catching but also extremely attractive. An energetic color talks more than a pastel one. An advertisement has to speak for itself for the audience to pay heed to it.

5. Recognizable visual style

Vintage ads have a very distinct visual style. The figures, the movements and the characters are dramatic enough to entice people to actually stop and have a good look at what’s being shown.

6. Simple, minimalistic design

Vintage marketing focuses on the ‘Less is more” concept of design. The design and visual elements are minimal yet noticeable so that the attention doesn’t stray much from the main product, just enough to notice the design that conveys what the product does.

When have brands used vintage marketing beautifully to their favor?

From CRED and Swiggy Instamart to Cadbury and Paper Boat, brands are trying to ignite a feeling of nostalgia to reach out to the innocent inner child in us who lived in a happier and simpler time.

Mondelez, the snacking giant that owns Cadbury, tweaked its popular, “kuch swad hai hum sabhi mein” commercial, in which a model runs past security when her partner scores a century and performs a celebratory dance in front of a packed cricket stadium. Keeping the jingle, tagline, and frames the same as its 1990s ad, Mondelez reversed the gender roles – this time a young man was celebrating a female cricketer’s sixer in the air. It was so on point that the digital ad went viral and was extended for television.

Google also created an ad titled “The Hero—A Bollywood Story”. It alluded to how Bollywood films have sparked and rekindled the hopes of tens of thousands of people, and it did so with an unlikely protagonist—the 60-something father of a young aspiring actor.

Paper Boat’s branding focuses on nostalgia the most and one of their ad films, “Rizwan: Keeper of the Gates of Heaven”, featured Rizwan, an old blind man who lives alone in a secluded home in the mountains and is reliving sweet memories of his childhood.

Swiggy’s campaign gave a fun twist to 5 Star’s Ramesh and Suresh and Colgate’s Kya Aapke Toothpaste mein namak hai ads and took us down memory lane again. Pizza Hut brought back Anuradha Menon aka Lola Kutty of 90s fame and CRED’s ‘The OG’ ad with old cricketers made a lot of buzz too.


When used ethically and carefully, vintage marketing and branding can prove to be one of the most successful marketing strategies. Brands are beginning to realize its vast potential and are using it to the best of their ability to connect with their target audience while increasing their reach at the same time. It has time and again proven to be a highly effective, emotionally equipped, and intelligently framed type of advertisement.