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Looking backwards to stand out – who exactly is my mystery valentine?


We’ve seen a lot of retro marketing and communications tactics over the last year or so and I’ve taken a closer look at an example that intrigued us this week.  Here’s a brief snippet – the full article is over at AskCharityCharityComms sister site aimed at supporting charity communications professionals, journalists and editors alike.


Retro marketing – or repackaging stuff that’s been around before – is a well-used marketing and communications technique. And because it’s well-used, it is getting tougher to recall many campaigns or products; commonplace things don’t stand out.

When VW created the new Beetle, Smile Train persisted with what looks like a 1970’s fundraising mailpack and Adidas reintroduced vinyl sports bags, they were among the first of their peers (certainly that I noticed) to deliberately look to their own history to achieve standout in today’s very crowded markets.

But when everyone does the same thing, retro stops being a movement or a specific approach and just becomes what everyone is doing.  Bang goes the standout and wave bye-bye to any comms cut through.

Retro Marketing

However, it can be a different story when organisations choose to hark back to something that either wasn’t successful first time round or considered naff at the time. For example, I’ve been around long enough to remember when direct mail wasn’t that common, and passing notes around school and then the office was a recognised means of communication – not just something to be laughed at!

In 2012, we might consider both of these things overdone or perhaps a bit naff. And I thought I did, until I received this note in the mail:

I know it might appear contrived, but it ticked the right boxes…

Read more here.


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