“Smells Like Teen Spirit” - The use of 90’s nostalgia to engage the Millennial audience

Candice Mallory Agency Services Coordinator Matlock Advertising & Public Relations The 90’s was the best decade ever! Bill Clinton was president (for a good portion of it ’93-01), alternative rock and R&B were at their peak and life was just awesome! I was old enough to go to the movies alone, buy cd’s (they even had cd singles) and date. Why should anyone care about my nostalgic moment of 90’s love? Because I am the current “hot market.”

Advertisers have started to target the growing buying power of the Millennial audience. Clever hashtags, apps, and free digital downloads reaching Millennials have become the focus of many major brands. SuperBowl XLIX featured one of my favorite MC’s Missy Misdemeanor Elliott in the halftime show, Jimmy Fallon announced the movement of The Tonight Show with a Fresh Prince of Bel Air themed intro, Coca-Cola reinstated Surge, General Mills revived French Toast Crunch, Mars has allowed me to crunch on Crispy M&M’s, and Geico is helping me buy insurance by telling me to “Push it real good.” 90’s culture is everywhere and honestly I love it!

The use of nostalgia is not new in marketing and advertising, but it does make a girl feel great to know that my Facebook petition can allow me to bask in my favorite childhood treat, if only for a limited time. By tapping into a time that links Millennials, marketers are attempting to find genuine ways to engage and in turn reap fiscal results from them. According to Patrick Spenner (Forbes magazine) the population size of Millennials is 76.6 million making us the largest generation in the US, and Adweek attributes much of the new diversity in Prime time television to networks adjusting to the Multicultural Millennial audience (Black-ish, Fresh off the Boat, Jane the Virgin).

The critiques on Millennial Marketing range from fruitless to genius! Articles and studies have grouped together and sub segmented us into scientific and emotional trending charts, but can a magic formula truly maximize your brands exposure and results with Millennials? Advertising Age and Business Insider are just a few of the publications tackling the frontier of Millennial Marketing and offering their various views on Do’s and Don’ts as well as effective targeting techniques. Does nostalgic marketing remind me of my awesomeness in the 90’s and make me want to call my old friends and reminisce, of course! But does that translate into transactions…time will tell.