Annual Gift Day and Nostalgia Marketing
Greetings loyal and somewhat neglected readers,
My apologies for the brief absence in posting. I think we can all agree though that besides being the season of jolly happy funtime lala sugarplum land, the holidays are also a time of insane, soul-stomping busyness, workaholism and casual explorations of stress-induced illnesses like hyperventilation, migraines and stomach ulcers.
Seasonal erosion of the collective health aside, I do have something of worth to share this week. I'm one of those people who uses holidays as an excuse to buy themselves expensive and frivolous presents, as in, "Why yes Amazon.com, I do think I deserve a PlayStation 3. After all, it is Arbor Day. I should treat myself."
This Christmas, among other things I picked myself up a replica Transformers Generation One Ravage USB Drive. For those of you who either don't remember or never knew, Ravage was one of the tape cassette Decepticons that Soundwave, the evil tape player, was able to shoot from his chest. He had a bat, bird, two little men and Ravage, who is best described as a robot stealth murder panther. He was awesome and was always making some kind of problem for the Autobots.
I know what you're thinking. "That's great Mike. You sure are a dork and spend too much money trying to recapture your misspent youth." Well listen, I think there's a valuable lesson to be extracted from my semiperpetual adolescence.
The Ravage USB I bought is not a "good product" as most would define it. For 40 bucks I got a measly 2 GB of memory that is of shaky quality at best (no lifetime guarantee, packaging that recalls those awful, off-brand drug store toys, etc.). At that price, I could probably get around 16-20 GB at retail with all kinds of nice features like autoplay menus, sortation functions and data protection. But I don't need another awesome flash drive. I have plenty of those. What I need is a toy robot panther that can transform into a USB drive and remind me of the greatest children's cartoon ever made, and now I have that.
So what if the drive is fragile, unable to store much and decidedly not an offically licensed product? It's Ravage. From Transformers. It's awesome. And that's the marketing hook here worth noting.
I suppose it's an obvious statement to make, but look how well the Ravage USB drive hit the sweet spot on it's demographic. Appeal to the 20-something tech nerd crowd, and suddenly your product is all over the Internet.
Something else to take from this would be how well the drive plays into nostalgia. Just look at any one of the uncountable movies that have come out in the last few years that are based off fondly remembered properties. Transformers 1 and 2*, G.I. Joe, Where the Wild Things Are, even Alvin and the Chipmunks has managed two feature films in recently, the latter of which made $50 million in it's opening week. Not that capitalizing on nostalgia has to be limited to '80s entertainment properties, you could just as easily utilize things like disco or the Electric Company or hoop skirts and parasols. People like the past, and there's probably a marketing angle that can occasionally be worked there if you're clever. Just something to consider when you're planning out new promotions next year.
See you all in Vegas,
CHARLES PLYTER FACT OF THE WEEK: I only actually know what the Electric Company is because of Charlie. I mean, I was vaguely familiar with it before, but one day he made me watch like four episodes because he was so upset I had no comprehension of something beloved to his childhood. See dear readers, nostalgia strikes again!
*For a hilarious time, take a peek at Roger Ebert's review of Transformers 2. The hatred he feels for that terrible, terrible movie warms my soul in ways I can't succinctly express.