Ever feel like Hollywood is stuck on rewind? Sequels, reboots, remakes — it's all a bit … well, repetitive.

And it's not because Hollywood is unoriginal or out of ideas. It turns out that we, as the audience, crave the comfort of revisiting what we know and love.

Barbie and Top Gun? Enough said.

I also noticed that rewatch podcasts have been super popular lately and wanted to understand why. So, I dug into the whole “nostalgia bait” thing and talked to marketers to discover what makes this trend so hot.

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What is a rewatch podcast?

The rewatch podcast is hosted by the cast members of a famous film, series, or TV show that is no longer running. Hosts watch episodes or scenes together and chat about them.

Sometimes, directors, writers, and other actors join in and make the episode even more exciting. The most interesting parts are behind-the-scenes stories that every fan enjoys.

For instance, do you remember Pam and Angela from The Office? Jenna Fischer and Angela Kinsey launched a rewatch podcast, Office Ladies, back in October 2019. And by 2022, it was one of the top 10 most listened-to podcasts.

rewatch podcasts, Top 10 most listened-to podcasts in 2022

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Every week, Angela and Jenna choose one episode of The Office and spill all the juicy secrets you never knew.

The podcast gets even better with other Office actors like John Krasinski, Rainn Wilson, Ed Helms, and Brian Baumgartner. As an avid fan, I can’t get enough of the show.

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So now that we know what a rewatch podcast is, how does it tie into nostalgia? Well, first, we need to start with a definition.

What is nostalgia bait?

Nostalgia bait is a marketing strategy that relies on fond memories of the past to sell something. It uses references or elements from pop culture, fashion, or even historical periods to trigger positive feelings that we have about those times.

The goal is to make you think, “Hey, I remember that from when I was a kid/teenager. What great times these were!”

This good feeling can make you believe the new product or media is as good as the original, even if it's not actually that unique or high-quality.

Here are a few examples of the nostalgia resurgence:

  • Y2K fashion is back. Popular styles from the late 1990s and early 2000s, like low-rise jeans, butterfly clips, and chunky sneakers, are trending again. Instagram and Pinterest are full of it.

Y2K fashion on Pinterest

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  • Classic TV shows sometimes get rebooted or revived decades later so fans can enjoy their favorite characters and stories again. A good example is Fuller House, which continues the story of Full House with the one and only Tanner family.

full house

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  • We had Super Mario on old Nintendo consoles with simple graphics and enjoyed the game in which a little man punched the boxes with his head. And almost 30 years later, it's still here! In a bit newer, fresher look, 3D versions of Mario Bros bring amazing games, toys, and even a movie. A man of 50 and a kid of 5 both know who Mario is. How cool is that?

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So, why is nostalgia bait so popular?

“Nostalgia wraps us in a comforting blanket, and that’s why it works,” says Digital Marketing Strategist Charles Lange.

And that makes sense.

Nostalgia highlights positive memories and makes us want to relive those moments. Brands understand this and use the emotional connection to link their product with our memories and "manipulate” us to buy.

Julie Snow, content marketing strategist at Big Leap, agrees and says that nostalgia-themed ads and designs are more favorably rated and can boost a consumer's willingness to pay more.

She continues, “Everybody seems to want to go back to a time period that was a bit more carefree than it may seem today.”

Content creator Tiffany Ferg points out that even with blatant fan service or nostalgia bait, many fans eagerly consume it.

The best example is the Mean Girls Walmart commercial for Black Friday, which was a huge boom.

X’s post about the Mean Girls campaign by Walmart

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Ferg questions what‘s fueling this nostalgia craze — audiences or the industry? She believes it’s both.

There's a massive demand for nostalgic content, translating to profit, such as through fan conventions, once stigmatized but now lucrative.

Rewatch Podcasts That Take Me Back

Besides Office Ladies, here are some of my favorite for rewatch podcasts. I’ll also dive into what makes the so enticing so you can unlock the power of nostalgia.

Fake Doctors, Real Friends

Fake Doctors, Real Friends podcast

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This podcast by Zach Braff (J.D.) and Donald Faison (Turk) is a total laugh riot. It’s a re-watch of the Scrubs show where Braff and Faison provide commentary and BTS insights into each episode.

They reminisce about filming, break down classic scenes, and interview guest stars like Neil Flynn (the Janitor). Wanna watch it? Then I need to warn you — get ready for some serious “Daaaang” moments.

What I like: Their real-life friendship makes the whole thing even funnier.

What brands can learn: Your hosts are arguably the most important part of your show. If you want to tap into the power of nostalgia, you’ll need people who lived through the era. Hosts with lived experience will make the nostalgia feel authentic.

Clueless Rewind

Clueless Rewind podcast

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Clueless Rewind is a popular podcast in which hosts Alan Scott and Kerensa Cadenas take listeners back to the 1995 film Clueless.

They analyze the fashion, the slang, and the life lessons hidden beneath the Clueless exterior. This podcast totally bugs out with fun and takes us back to one of the most popular '90s teen comedies.

What I like: Interviews with cast and crew, serving up some juicy gossip.

What brands can learn: Sometimes, you can’t snag a celebrity to host your podcast. However, you might be able to get some on-screen icons to join you for an interview. Special guests can help you overcome these limitations and make a great show.

 

Drama Queens

Bethany Joy Lenz, Hilarie Burton, and Sophia Bush, aka the Drama Queens themselves, are back together! They break down every single episode of One Tree Hill and share so many good secrets here.

You’ll feel like you’re on coffee with your besties and chat about the good old days. That’s the feeling it brings.

What I like: The topics are so interesting, so girly, and so perfectly covered that you simply can’t stop listening.

What brands can learn: Think about the references your audience knows. Drama Queens appeals to listeners who not only loved the show but likely went to high school when One Tree Hill aired. The hosts can then make references and jokes that people in their audience can relate to.

Drama Queens podcast

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Welcome to Our Show

Welcome to Our Show podcast

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Welcome to Our Show is a hilarious podcast hosted by three real-life best friends from the sitcom New Girl. In each episode, the trio rewatches an episode of New Girl and shares BTS stories and hilarious anecdotes.

They goof around, riff on iconic lines, play fun games, and simply make your day better.

What I like: This isn't just a straight replay. The hosts also share their personal memories, which sometimes bring a tear to my eye and sometimes make me snort-laugh out loud.

What brands can learn: A rewatch podcast doesn’t need to be focused only on an iconic television show. You can add elements like games or themed segments to keep the show entertaining.

Other Examples of Successful Nostalgia Bait.

Many brands have been jumping into the nostalgia pool lately, but not every company gets it right. Here are a few campaigns that caught my attention and gave me an authentic blast from the past.

Converse: Chuck Taylor All-Stars — Limited Edition Pokemon Designs

I love this genius collaboration of Converse with Pokemon that created limited edition Chuck Taylors featuring characters like Pikachu and Charizard. They even re-released some of the older designs to celebrate the 25th anniversary of Pokemon.

The result? The brands combined two things more of us loved as a kid and tapped into nostalgia bait.

pokemon

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Nintendo: NES Classic Edition

In 2016, Nintendo presented the NES Classic Edition. This tiny console had 30 old-school NES games and flew off shelves.

It was great for reliving childhood gaming memories and introducing Super Mario and Donkey Kong to new generations.

Well done, Nintendo — retro gaming at its finest!

NES classic edition

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Barbie

The 2023 Barbie movie sparked nostalgia for 2010s pop feminism. Social media was flooded with campaigns urging women and girls to share old photos and stories.

The movie itself was a mix of nostalgia and empowerment, though it sparked some concerns about profiting from insecurities.

But despite the debate, Barbie seems to have bounced back stronger than ever. Her influence isn‘t just limited to toys anymore. She’s in fashion and cosmetics, and impacting the whole industry.

How To Get Nostalgia Bait Right?

It’s easy to get lost here and make a nostalgia bait campaign a total fail, so I have the tips to make your audience feel the warm fuzzies (the good kind) without being cheesy.

Here's what you should(n’t) do.

1. Nudge, don’t shout.

If you need to shout “nostalgia” in your campaign, you’re doing something wrong.

Gently guide customers instead of overwhelming them with loud and too obvious ads. Use cool details and nods to the past that make people go, “Hey, I remember that!”

According to John Pennypacker, vice president of marketing and sales at Deep Cognition, you need to subtly incorporate old references into content for effective nostalgia marketing.

He continues, “Instead of blatantly stating that your product is a ‘throwback to the 90s,’ use design elements, color schemes, or even specific references in a more subtle and understated manner. This will allow your audience to feel nostalgic on their own terms rather than being told what to reminisce about.”

2. Be authentic.

Authentic nostalgia isn't just about cashing in on memories. It must honor the fans, the creators, and the stories themselves.

People can easily see your attempts to just profit from a trend, so be careful.

I recently watched a great NickyandCoco episode discussing whether nostalgia bait kills creativity and looks too salesy. They talked about how important it is to make it feel real.

Just like with Marvel movies — if you keep doing the same thing over and over, people get tired, says Nicky. It’s called “superhero fatigue.”

“Marvel” search interest 2004-2024

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This stat proves why it’s important to keep your original content fresh by adding authenticity, originality, and new angles. Otherwise, the audience interest may flop like this.

Here’s a brand that got it right…

The Hunger Games franchise does a great job of mixing old and new.

It brings back familiar characters and places from the original books and movies but also adds new twists and interesting elements all the time. This way, it keeps both longtime fans and newcomers interested.

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds & Snakes revenue

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Getting It Wrong

Using nostalgia to make money instead of telling a good story can be super dangerous. It can lead to rushed sequels or adaptations that disappoint everyone.

That happened with Game of Thrones. It was amazing (my favorite, honestly), but then it ran out of books, and things went downhill fast. The ending wasn't what fans expected.

They rushed it, and it was obvious.

3. Add a modern twist.

Don't just rehash the past. Use the nostalgia as a springboard to introduce something fresh.

For instance, Polaroid cameras, once hugely popular, lost out to digital photography at some point. Now, they're more popular than ever.

How did this happen?

Polaroids today offer the vintage joy of capturing a moment and watching it develop in front of your eyes but with modern features — digital storage and instant sharing.

cameras

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Instagram also has a great retro-modern approach.

Its vintage camera filters add a grainy, old-timey feel to your photos, but you can still edit and share them digitally.

Lessons from both: Make classic styles cool again.

Instagram vintage effects

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4. Don't focus solely on one audience.

The biggest mistake marketers make is focusing too much on one type of audience, let’s say the 90s generation, and targeting them only. It should not be like that.

You need to find a balance on how to appeal to different generations.

Lee Moskowitz, director of growth marketing at SmartPass agrees and emphasizes that the many nostalgia campaigns only work for a portion of the audience and can isolate others.

“There are multiple generations in the workforce, and your main decision-makers could be any of Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and now Gen Z. If you are going to use nostalgia bait, make sure you've done a full demographic and psychographic analysis of your audience and TAM; otherwise, it can do more harm than good,” Moskowitz says.

So, how do we target different ages at the same time?

Google's Real Tone campaign from 2022 is a perfect example. It deals with the problem of smartphone cameras not showing darker skin tones well.

The ad uses old photos and black-and-white movie scenes to help you realize how photography has changed over time.

Google Pixel 6 ad

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This especially resonates with older generations and reminds baby boomers of their past snapshots from youth.

The campaign also includes selfies and young people to attract Gen Z. This way, everyone sees “themselves” in the ad and understands why the Google Pixel 6 is something they all might need.

Taking selfies

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The Future of Nostalgia: Why It's Here to Stay

Rewatch podcasts and all this nostalgia stuff are hot because they let us revisit happy memories. And this isn’t just a marketing fad that will disappear at some point. It will be here, and I feel like it’ll be used more than ever because:

  • It feels good, like comfort food for our brains.
  • Rewatch podcasts give us juicy behind-the-scenes info.
  • Old favorites are back, but cooler, modern, and simply better.

And finally, here’s the best tip to make your nostalgia bait campaign work (thank me later):

Feel it: “It’s Saturday morning. You’re on the couch with colorful cereal, watching Pok√©mon. No worries. No adult problems. Just a freedom and the coolest Cartoon Network show.”

Recreate that excitement and feeling in your marketing, and you'll win.

state-of-marketing-2024



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