The past, as it has always been, is the prologue. Marketing is in the midst of a revolution that focuses on the past while remaining relevant in today’s world. The more new technologies emerge, the more marketers revert to previous ideals and images indicative of a glorified simpler time. This marketing shift works two-fold since it both appeals to the nostalgic baby-boomer generation while also fitting the retrofied youth of today.

For example, review the following images…

What is your first reaction? Regardless of your age, background or segment of the population, does the branding appeal to you? If so, think about why. Do you like them because they are pretty and artsy, because they instill nostalgic thoughts, because it is cool to like it, or because you just don’t quite “get” them so you say you do to fit in? Regardless of your personal engagement, the retro-feel is largely evident in each image since each one is, in fact, actually retro or, as the definition states, “culturally outdated or aged style, trend, mode, or fashion, from the overall postmodern past.”

“If marketing is not dead – or dying, then it must be going through a “mid-life crisis” – Stephen Brown

Marketing, like the consumers it targets, is always evolving. As products age through their product life cycle they go through peaks that mirror humans at their peak or “oh no, I’m old” moment. Products have growth, maturity, and decline that require different strategies that must take into account changing consumer trends that, in today’s market, is increasing focused on the love of the past. The emphasis on simplistic lifestyles through vintage labeling that references previous eras is a current trend that has staying power due to the multifaceted segments it targets as discussed above.

Mountain Dew Branding Evolution

Logo evolution

Mountain Dew introduced “throwback” or vintage oriented labels that reference previous labels from the 1960s in an effort to join the retr0-marketing movement. They introduced two new “old” labels that were placed on both cans and bottles in an effort to highlight this ‘limited-time only’ throwback model. Much like the NFL with their occasional throwback jersey days, these labels are self-referential since they highlight their own brand evolution. Take a look:

As an expert, which you are by virtue of having consumer power, what did you think? Does Mountain Dew get it? Have they visually evolved in appealing fashion, or are you turned off by the in-your-face THIS IS THROWBACK! tactics? Also, if you already drink the soda, would you be inspired to buy more as a result of the “cool” new logos or would it be strictly actual product, a.k.a. the caffeine, that keeps you coming back? Or, if you are not a loyal “Do the Dew-er,” do the vintage labels intrigue you enough to try this new product? Researched consumer behavior and overall sales will give the final verdict for many of these questions.

He who has the gold makes the rule

The big overarching question is not whether retro-marketing is still trending or how long it will continue to be effective; the question is who is driving the market or, simply put, who has the gold? Do we, the consumers, have the gold since we have the gift of choice? Consumers are impacted by the changing market, regardless of the retro-evolution, but ultimately being able to choose gives them, us, the upper hand thus the gold. Unless…

…we are unwitting pawns in a game we don’t understand. Maybe we don’t miss the past. Maybe we don’t like the simple life. Maybe we are excited to be in the ear of technology. Maybe maybe maybes don’t answer what is driving us, thus the marketing, thus us (chicken, egg, chicken, egg) and so forth in dizzying fashion. Perhaps marketers exploited the trend and tricked us into wanting to live in boring 1950s USA.

So, who has the gold? More importantly, who cares! If you like the retro-lifestyle then choose to live it. Embrace the past, wear vintage clothing, drink “Pepsi-Cola” in oldnewold labels, and Instagram away the vibrant colors of the world you live in. Or don’t. It’s your choice.

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