A Research Program on Nostalgia Advertising and Autobiographical Memory

Nostalgia is a sentimental yearning for one’s unrecoverable idealized past (e.g., objects, close relations, life events) that presents itself as a mixed-valence bittersweet (albeit more positive) social emotion, common across cultures. Nostalgia has been successfully used in advertising to market consumer products in diverse industry sectors, such as food, travel, leisure, automobiles, and movies. In addition, nostalgia advertising can be effectively used to promote pro-social and health behaviours, such as donating to charity or seeking professional psychological help for depression.  

Nostalgia-evoking advertisements are used to create an emotional connection between the consumer and the brand (or message) by evoking positive feelings related to autobiographical memories (i.e., memories about one’s life) about “the good old times” via an affect-transferring mechanism, in which the emotion attached to autobiographical memories is transferred to the advertisement, the brand, and the message.  

NOST-Ad-GIA aims to investigate the cognitive mechanisms and autobiographical memory processes involved in nostalgia advertising. Such knowledge can help with understanding how memory cues used in advertising and messaging trigger nostalgia-evoking autobiographical memories and how they can impact consumer behaviour and decision making. In this way, nostalgia can be used to promote behavioural change and encourage consumers to engage in positive, pro-social, sustainable, and healthy behaviours for themselves and their communities, further harnessing the power of nostalgia in advertising and communication.