AT&T’s Blackberry ad wins by using nostalgia

We’ve all been driving and a song comes on the radio that reminds us of a former love or an old memory. Sometimes we feel instantly warm inside or sad or start laughing at a goofy incident from years past.

We all have other places that bring up memories. I remember my first big-girl movie. My dad took me to the Keswick Theater to see Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The Keswick is no longer a movie theater. Instead, it’s a small concert venue. But every time I go back there, I have this warm feeling inside thinking of walking to the movie theater and other fond memories of growing up in Glenside.

Both are examples of nostalgia and can be the key to successful advertising.

One year ago, Stuart Elliott of The New York Times said, “As the recession continues taking its toll, marketers are trying to tap into fond memories to help sell what few products shoppers are still buying.” That still holds true today.

The key to evoking nostalgia in advertisements is to create a scenario that’s more likely to evoke positive memories—and to appeal to a large group of people. Then, if you’re lucky, that positive association drifts toward your product as well.

AT&T does a fantastic job of this in their new commercial. Check out the ad here:

What do you think?

I instantly smiled and had a strong urge to find some bumper cars to ride. My dad even said how much he liked the commercial when it came on while we were hanging out together this weekend. So, that’s two generations who agree. (And my dad and I don’t often agree!)

Did you catch the expression on the man’s face in the elevator? Wouldn’t you love to feel that way at work?

Business meet fun. Fun, business.

Given that tagline, AT&T could’ve gone another direction and simply showed people having fun at work. Adding a nostalgic childhood element to it made it more than just watching people having fun, we could actually identify with them.

They took a place where many people these days don’t feel good and transformed it. And that’s how you get your audience to engage.

Look at some of the viewer comments (from YouTube):

I like this ad. The world-speeding-up idea is well captured. Next time I start to roll my eyes at middle managers carrying on during a meeting, I’ll imagine them twirling in teacups… lol. <LilyOmori>

I’m addicted to watching this commercial! It’s so cool! When fun meets business, that’s the life I want! <Tehtarik1996>

All I have left to say is, “Well done.” In fact, I liked the commercial so much, I won’t even mention that awful name Torch. With solid advertising and the Blackberry name, it probably doesn’t even matter.


Want more nostalgia? Bookmark Popular Nostalgia. Want to read more about branding and advertising? Check out the Branding Strategy Insider and the Warc blog—found some great stuff there.

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