Is Nostalgia a Thing of the Past?

As of this month, Jack Daniels and the Frank Sinatra estate are launching a campaign for “Sinatra Select,” a premium version of Jack Daniels inspired by Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. While the bottles have been sold in select outlets since 2012, the company plans on mass distribution starting June 2014 with the product selling for $150. The campaign, designed by Arnold Worldwide, will run in many of Sinatra’s favorite cities including New York, Chicago,  Las Vegas and Miami. According to Eric Doninger, global marketing creative director for Jack Daniels, the company plans to spend about $2.3 million on their campaign including digital and print. 

The viral ad currently running focuses heavily on images of Sinatra, playing up his Rat Pack days and using big band music. Images, videos and a voice over of Sinatra grace the commercial and viewers feel a sense of nostalgia for the past as the singer’s memorabilia flashes on screen. Obviously, since this product has Sinatra’s name attached to it and is posthumous, the company’s only choice was to play the nostalgia card. However, does this technique still register with viewers or, similar to it’s intentions, is using nostalgic advertising becoming a thing of the past? 

Last semester in my advertising campaigns class, it was our job to take a brand and create a new campaign for the product. Assigned to Campbell’s Traditional Soups, my group thought that it would be beneficial to play on heartwarming images of the brand throughout the decades. Since Campbell’s is such an iconic brand, it would only make sense to use it’s age and past images to tug on the emotions of current and potential consumers right? Well, after discussing our plans of using nostalgia with ad execs who came in to give us feedback, we quickly learned that reminiscing on the past doesn’t always work. Apparently, audiences don’t respond to nostalgic images and the idea of a product through the generations as much as they used to. Therefore, my question is, do advertisements like the one featuring Mr. Sinatra still successfully execute sales? Do we respond well to things that remind us of the past or, in this fast paced world, do we prefer things to constantly be new? 


 Schultz, E.J. Frank Sinatra Posthumously Pitches $150 (and up) Bottles of Jack Daniel’s. Ad Age. Retrieved February 24, 2014, from



One thought on “Is Nostalgia a Thing of the Past?

  1. I think nostalgic images only work with specific brands and with specific images of nostalgia. If the nostalgic image is used for a brand that does not have a long history, I do not think it works because there is no nostalgia with the brand. Additionally, if the nostalgic image does not lead to a good memory because maybe a war was occurring, it does not work. However, for companies with long, long histories who choose the right image and are advertising to the right age group, I think it can be a successful tactic.


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