What’s Old Is New Again

The past successes seem to be overtaking current trends in a crowded marketplace of ideas. Dusty mascots, throwback products and retro packaging are now used by diverse brands. KFC, Pepsi and General Mills have recently released these types of products and enjoyed significant success.

In May, KFC decided to revitalize a well-known figure associated with its brand, Colonel Sanders. According to PR Week, there has been a major digital engagement increase since the company released TV spots and flooded social media with memes and ads — a 1,289 percent increase to be exact.

KFC’s first attempt at reviving the icon wasn’t as widely accepted as the most recent commercials. Norm MacDonald replaced Darrell Hammond as the Colonel in hopes of attracting a younger audience and gaining more favorable responses.

Pepsi also experimented with its history in its throwback Pepsi products made from real sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup found in most of its products today. The bottles and cans also feature a retro label.


General Mills is another brand that has decided to deck their products in retro packaging. The company partnered with Curb Crowser to create the old-fashioned look of the boxes.

Retro_Cereal-FrontsIn an interview with the General Mill’s blog, Curb Crowser’s Derek Wallen, who was the lead art director on the project, had this to say about why the packaging has been so popular, “When people see retro packaging, it’s sort of like hearing an old song, and they’re reminded of simpler, happier times.”

When you see a throwback product or retro packaging does it make you want to buy the product even more than you normally would? Does it remind you of your childhood or as Wallen says “of simpler, happier times”?

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3 Responses to What’s Old Is New Again

  1. Siera Whitten says:

    From my consumer perspective, I can definitely relate to picking up on these type of products! I am not drawn to KFC, but other brands that have retro branding such as Kiehls Natural Skincare or Benefit Cosmetics certainly catch my eye when I am shopping. For me, I think it is the easy-going, flowing font of Kiehls or the pastel colors and the “classy girl” imageson the Benefit Cosmetic packaging that is most attractive. From a marketing perspective, I think this is a really good idea because not only are retro graphics fun and playful to attract a younger audience, but they also attract an older audience because seeing the throwback logos/branding IS like “hearing an old song” or a reminder of “simpler, happier times.”

  2. Alex Sorrell says:

    I really questioned KFC’s Colonel ads because they don’t play necessarily on the nostalgia aspect like Pepsi Throwback, but more a comedic one. While they are playing on Sanders’ image, they’re obviously targeting a younger audience that wouldn’t remember the real Sanders, using comedy and snark. Snark seems to be all the rage these days, something that’s great for my job prospects, but I think some brands shouldn’t jump on the snark bandwagon and KFC is one of those brands.

    Despite their efforts to diversify their menu, KFC is a place to pick up family dinner. The PR Week article compared this campaign to Old Spice’s recent rebranding, but the difference is that Old Spice was trying to reach young men and I’m not sure if KFC knows who their target audience is. I don’t see a teenage boy buying a bucket of chicken. While these comedic ads may skew younger and get media coverage, I question whether or not they’ll improve sales or get a younger audience for KFC.

  3. Cassandra Weller says:

    You brought up a great point, I don’t think KFC knows exactly who their target audience is. I think that is why KFC is bringing back the Colonel to possibly appeal to the older audience that remembers those ads and also appeal to a younger audience by bringing Norm to play him. It will be interesting to see what direction the company takes when they are ready to release new ads.

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