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That familiar feeling

Jun 21, 2019
Familiarity and advertising have long worked hand-in-hand. By crafting or buying into an image, story or feeling people know and understand, an instant point-of-recognition is created for consumers – and numerous brands have used this to their advantage to find and expand upon their place in the market.

We begin with a look at Ikea’s most recent campaign, ‘Real Life Series’. It struck a chord with consumers across the generations by creating three of the most iconic and instantly recognisable family rooms to have graced our screens – proving that the simplicity of The Simpsons’ couch; the cluttered, random look of Monica’s apartment in Friends; and the eerie 80s vibes of Joyce Byers’ Stranger Things sitting room are entirely achievable with products from IKEA. The results were outstanding, with an increase in traffic of 50%, and AdWeek Creative Editor David Griner describing it as “probably the most shared Ikea campaign of all time”. The settings showcase the vast and varied nature of IKEA’s inventory, but the campaign’s success is largely down to a connection with consumers. These are locations we’ve been watching and “been a part of” for decades, so we’re able to both enjoy this nostalgia, and now, potentially revel in it in our own homes.

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Visuals producing nostalgic feelings are one thing, but physically experiencing something from your childhood is something else entirely. It’s this concept Sony explored last year with the release of the PlayStation Classic. Essentially, it’s a low-cost, miniature-sized PlayStation One console, giving players the opportunity to enjoy 20 of the most iconic games that dominated their lives in years-gone-by – securing dales through nostalgia and familiarity. And they’re not the only company to revisit their own back catalogues either – the likes of Nokia, Cadburys, Polaroid and even VW have revisited and reinvented discontinued products in a bid to bring back memories and customers.

Nostalgia isn’t the only way familiarity breeds success in advertising – creating a consistent, relatable narrative for a brand works wonders as well. Widely renowned as one of the best advertising campaigns of all time, Nescafe struck the sweet spot with the ‘Gold Blend couple’. It was more soap opera than ad-campaign, with each TV advert following a serial format that depicted the emerging romance between two neighbours whose love of coffee was the bedrock of their connection. The brand created two real characters who were going through a heart-warming, captivating story that consumers could genuinely relate to – and the results were there for all to see. Each ‘episode’ gained huge media attention as the nation was compelled to discover what happened next – and this interest transferred into profit, with the product’s sales increasing by 50% in the UK alone. More recently, Budweiser has taken a similar strategy with ‘Dilly Dilly’, bringing viewers a series of ads from the fictional, medieval world. This not only keeps viewers keen to see what’s coming next, but has strengthened the catchphrase by putting it in a range of scenarios – adding to the overall success of the campaign.


The potency of familiarity and nostalgia in marketing extends throughout all mediums and senses – and sound is a prime example. Artists have been covering songs since the dawn of music, but it’s only more recently that brands have been utilzing fresh reworks of old songs as a method to boost sales and engage with consumers. Following their multi-year partnership with the FA, Lucozade has capitalized on this phenomenon. With England’s incredible World Cup 2018 campaign still fresh in the nation’s memory, and the sweet serenade of Baddiel and Skinner’s 1996 hit “Three Lions” still ringing in collective ears – Lucozade has rewritten the song for the England Women’s Team as they embark on their own World Cup quest. The lyrics were tweeted line-by-line by current Lioness stars, with the entire song and video posted later. It represents the perfect combination of a familiar, much-loved song, with the modern day issue of perceptions of women in sport. It’s nostalgia and familiarity brought into 2019.

Audio branding is also based around familiarity; how a consistent sound, a recognizable voice and an exclusive track associated with the company can help build and strengthen relationships with the customer. At PHMG, We provide an identity that listeners will buy into and trust, creating a familiarity that can extend throughout a client’s entire business.