It’s Time To Go Retro – Part 3

Effective Retro Styling

In my last two blogs I looked at how you can work with your video producer to create retro styled marketing videos. I discussed what techniques and styles they could use to evoke past decades. This time I want to think about how and why that might be effective. What customer groups might respond to what style and what content may be appropriate. After all there is no point going retro unless we go effective retro.

If we go back to first principles it’s clear that whatever advertising we employ our aim is to attract viewers and hence customers. The data still shows that despite changes in the online environment video advertising is still more effective than any other method. If we are having our video producer make us a retro styled video it’s because we believe it will be the most effective video for our business. let’s break down the kind of styling strategies and decisions we can use.

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Retro Choices

I think there are two ways of using our retro styling techniques. Firstly to induce a nostalgia in the viewer to enhance the feelings they have when watching our video. The second is out of sheer playfulness. If we are looking at creating nostalgia we have to discuss with our producer what period we want our viewers to feel. Which takes us back to knowing our customers. You know your customers and have to tell your producer about them. We then need to look at our product and decide what period in their lives do you need your customers to leap back to.

Effective Retro

This is  a simple table that you can use as a guide when deciding which period you need to think about for effective retro styling. I have broken your customer’s lives into sections and associated those sections with various decades based upon their age range.

Example 1

Let’s imagine that we are selling funeral payment plans. Let’s imagine we are targeting people in their fifties. Your video producer needs to find a way of reminding people whose children have (probably) all left home of their parental responsibilities. Perhaps your video starts with young parents playing in the garden with young children. They are dressed as if it’s the mid eighties. The video has side bars to give it a nineteen eighties television aspect ratio (4:3) and the video has been given an interlaced video look. Your video looks exactly like a TV commercial from nineteen eighty five. Hence the viewer is drawn back to that period of their life.

The voice over, in warm creamy tones, tells you what a wonderful time it was. It reminds you how you always worried about doing your best for your children. The camera closes in on the smiling face of a parent as their expression changes to one of concern. The voice over tells you that the feelings of responsibility never really go away. The face cross fades into an older face. The camera cuts to a wide shot which is now in widescreen and looks like a glossy modern advert. It’s the same garden but everything is modern. Everyone wears contemporary clothes. The parent is now a grandparent and their child at their side watching over their children playing. The voice over tells you it’s now time to start thinking about not leaving funeral expenses as a burden for your family.

Be Playful

We can use retro styling to be playful and enhance our message. When we do this we need to think about how we can use incongruous juxtapositions. Or if we can exploit preconceptions about the past to bolster our message. A sepia toned video or Victorians using cell phones will be much more eye catching than a contemporary scene. Images of traditional chefs pouring chocolate or caramel in a small kitchen that looks very nineteenth century makes us feel warm inside. Nobody makes sweets that way. Sweets are made in factories, and new sweets are created in modern state of the art kitchens. But these kind of images are used very successfully.

Example 2

A child stares in a sweet shop window, while people in pristine white outfits bustle back and forth in the shop. The child is dressed as if it’s the nineteen forties. The shop staff are dressed as if it’s the eighteen eighties. In the kitchens golden light gleams from copper pots and lavish crystal caramels. A grandparent buys a bag of sweets for a delighted child. Later they share the delights together in front of a roaring fire. I’m looking at you Lindor and Worther’s.

Of course retro style advertising isn’t a new thing. I’m going to leave you with one of the most celebrated adverts of all time. It has no retro technical styling but the content is designed to evoke the early twentieth century in order to give the product a sense of timelessness and solidity. It’s the feeling that Hovis still want you to have. Their more recent advert at the top of the blog lets you see how they hark back to this classic. Hovis have created a wave of nostalgia for all ages with retro content. When you watched it how did it make you feel? That feeling is why nostaglia, and the retro styling we need to create it, are very effective marketing tools.