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Ads in the Wild: Keeping it Social with Nostalgia

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Is there anything quite as “social” as nostalgia?

Proust may have had a very private trigger for his memories of time lost, but most of the time, we tend to trip nostalgic based on shared cultural memories — stuff that evokes the way things were “back in the day.”

What could be more inherently social than that?  And since I wrote last week’s column about the importance of “Keeping it Social,” it seemed only appropriate to write this week’s column about tapping into the power of nostalgia to give ads a social flair. Just check out this ad I found staring out from my Facebook page the other day:

Battlestar PPC Ad

Ah, Battlestar Galactica…  such a motherlode of nostalgia that they’ve already rebooted the TV show to record breaking success on the Sci-Fi channel.  A show practically guaranteed to bring back memories of 80s childhoods.

And here’s the best thing about it: We don’t even need to read the URL to know it’s a BSG game.  Just the shape of that fighter is enough to start one’s mind tripping back through the years. In my case, it took a moment to place it properly, which of course prompted me to read the ad.

But it didn’t quite intrigue me enough to click through, mostly because I’m not much of a gamer, but also because the ad almost totally failed to capitalize on the nostalgia they created with the picture:

  • No reference to battling it out with the Cylons
  • No reference to Starbuck, Apollo, Adama, etc.
  • No hint to whether the game follows the storylines from old TV show or the recent reboot

There are plenty of great games out there.  This one’s special appeal was based pretty heavily on nostalgia and the desire to re-enter the Battlestar Galactica universe/storyline.  So where is that nostalgic appeal in the text of the ad itself?

And what about the social aspect of the game? Can I play on teams with friends?

For an example of using nostalgia properly, check out some of the “What 80s Movie Character are You” quizzes that ripped through the Facebook universe a few years back.  Not only did they invoke a heavy dose of nostalgia, but they doubled-down on the social aspects of that nostalgia, by enabling the sharing of of recalled cultural milestones with friends.

And that’s the kind of social dynamic you should be looking for in a nostalgia-based ad.

About the Author


It's time for another installment of our “Ads in the Wild Series” from one of our PPC Hero Allies, Jeff Sexton of BoostCTR, where he dissects and analyzes ads he sees various places online. This series gives an in-depth look at the philosophy and strategy behind these ads and provides actionable advice for anyone looking to improve their ad copy.

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