top 5 campaigns that successfully leveraged '60s cultural nostalgia

talkin' to my generation

May 18, 2015 · Share via Email LinkedIn


There are two types of ads for Boomers: ones that patronize and ones that connect on a deep level. While the marketing world is currently and constantly aflutter with the power and importance of Millennials, it’s Boomers who hold the majority of financial power in America. 

It can be easy to forget about the Greatest Generation when it comes to marketing. According to insights by Nielsen marketing, in less than five years, Boomers will control 70 percent of the nation's disposable income. Additionally, according to that same report, Boomers have the same level of brand loyalty as other age groups. Here are five campaigns that connected with Boomer nostalgia. 

1. BRIDGING PAST AND PRESENT The best advertising campaign began in 1933 when The Budweiser Company began using the majestic Clydesdale horses to pull a beer wagon containing the first beer delivery following the repeal of Prohibition. Since then, Budweiser has continued to use their horses to continue the tradition of a quintessential American company. Nearly every year they update the story with an anticipated Super Bowl ad, including the unforgettable rendition in 2002. Through these iconic horses, the company connects with their consumers — especially Boomers — and successfully looks back while staying current.

2. SHOWCASING BOOMER VALUES If Millenials have FOMO ("fear of missing out"), Toyota Venza's ad "Keep on Rolling" capitalizes on how that impacts their lives. We see a teenager at a computer talking about social media followers while the adults are out biking and enjoying real-life experiences. The ad connects Boomers' active lifestyles with how the Venza can get them there. Saatchi LA's research, referenced in AdWeek, showed that Boomers were willing to spend on things that bring them "self-fulfillment."

3. ADDING CONTEXT TO BRANDING Recently, State Farm Insurance has taken to using Elvis in their "State Farm Is There" campaign. This ad features four Elvis impersonators singing State Farm's famous jingle. The colors are vibrant and the theme is clear: the insurance company will worry on your behalf and always be there for you. It is simple messaging but connects with a Boomer desire to live their lives in the now and leave worries behind.

4. CLASSIC, YET TIMELESS Coca-Cola has always been America. Boomers can likely remember drinking their first Coke from a glass bottle and Coke recently launched the "Share a Coke" campaign, a tie-back to messaging from the 1960s. No matter the campaign, Coke often connects back to yesteryear, whether through their holiday ads, introducing aluminum bottles shaped like their iconic glass bottles, or their campaign this summer featuring two works by Andy Warhol. When brands come with the recognition and strength that Coke does, they do not need to work hard to build and maintain a quality relationship with Boomers. In this case, walking softly and carrying a big Coke, or letting the brand do the talking, is the right path.  

5. DRAWING ON SHARED RESILIENCE During halftime of the Super Bowl in 2012, Chrysler presented an ad narrated by Clint Eastwood entitled, "Halftime in America." It was designed to connect with all Americans in a troubled time. Boomers easily connect with the company, which evokes Americana in everything its built. They were there through the Great Depression and WWII, and have consistently been a part of the Boomer story. This campaign spoke of the history of discord and fear, but evoked pride and purpose, both characteristics near and dear to Boomers. 

Boomers expect quality products, but don’t want to be pandered to. Authentic messages will resonate more positively with Boomers than messages just created to make a sale. If the marketing speaks to deeper values and a shared history, Boomers will reward brands. 

Photo credit: urbanbuzz /