Away from “Unified Nostalgia”: Conceptual Differences of Personal and Historical Nostalgia Appeals in Advertising

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  • This article was downloaded by: [Universite De Paris 1]On: 16 May 2013, At: 04:42Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number: 1072954 Registeredoffice: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street, London W1T 3JH, UK

    Journal of Promotion ManagementPublication details, including instructions for authors andsubscription information:http://www.tandfonline.com/loi/wjpm20

    Away from Unified Nostalgia:Conceptual Differences of Personaland Historical Nostalgia Appeals inAdvertisingChristopher Marchegiani a & Ian Phau aa Curtin University of Technology, Perth, AustraliaPublished online: 12 Mar 2010.

    To cite this article: Christopher Marchegiani & Ian Phau (2010): Away from Unified Nostalgia:Conceptual Differences of Personal and Historical Nostalgia Appeals in Advertising, Journal ofPromotion Management, 16:1-2, 80-95

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  • Journal of Promotion Management, 16:8095, 2010Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLCISSN: 1049-6491 print / 1540-7594 onlineDOI: 10.1080/10496490903572991

    Away from Unified Nostalgia: ConceptualDifferences of Personal and Historical

    Nostalgia Appeals in Advertising

    CHRISTOPHER MARCHEGIANI and IAN PHAUCurtin University of Technology, Perth, Australia

    Studies suggest that nostalgia can be split into two distinct forms:Personal and Historical nostalgia. This research explores these vari-eties of nostalgic appeal and, based on literature, proposes differingeffects these variations may have on the important consumer be-havior responses of cognition, emotions, attitudes, and purchaseintentions. A review of the literature suggests that significant dif-ferences will exist dependent on the type of nostalgic appeal beingused. The call for scales to test these appeals independently of oneanother is also made. Finally, this evidence suggests that treatmentof nostalgia as a unified concept may be inaccurate in predict-ing true consumer responses and future studies should treat the twotypes as separate appeals if rigor is to be suggested.

    KEYWORDS advertising appeals, memory process, historical nos-talgia, personal nostalgia

    INTRODUCTION

    Nostalgia: A Brief History and Background

    Nostalgia is commonly described as a preference (general liking, positiveattitude, or favourable affect) toward objects (people, places, or things) thatwere more common (popular, fashionable, or widely circulated) when onewas younger (in early adulthood, in adolescence, in childhood, or even be-fore birth) (Holbrook & Schindler, 1991, p. 330). It may affect any person,regardless of their age, social class, gender, ethnicity, or other social group-ings (Sedikides, Wildschut, & Baden, 2004). Although originally based in

    Address correspondence to Ian Phau, PhD, Professor, School of Marketing, Curtin Busi-ness School, Curtin University of Technology, GPO Box U1987, Perth, WA 6845. E-mail:Ian.phau@cbs.curtin.edu.au

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  • Nostalgia Appeals in Advertising 81

    psychology, nostalgia has been developed through sociology and market-ing into a promotional appeal identified as highly effective and persuasive(Naughton, Vlasic, & Grover, 1998). From a marketing viewpoint, it hasbeen identified as an underlying theme of many marketing and advertis-ing strategies (Ironson, 1999; Cosgrove & Sheridan, 2002; Lundegaard, 2002;Poniewozik, 2002; White, 2002) and has been implicated in a variety ofbehavioral research contexts, including; self-concept, brand loyalty, brandmeaning, the human senses, consumption preferences, literary criticism, col-lective memory, and emotions (Muehling & Sprott, 2004).

    Nostalgia may be caused by a number of elements, including music,photographs, movies, special events, family members, threatening stimulus,and as a deliberate response to an uncomfortable psychological state (Holak& Havlena, 1992; Greenberg, Koole, & Pyszczynski, 2004). In advertisements,advertisers may be capable of explicitly encouraging nostalgic reflection us-ing executional elements such as music, jingles, and visual images (Havlena& Holak, 1991). This has been tested empirically through the content analysisof television advertisements (1031 ads appearing on network TV) by Unger,McConocha, and Faier (1991) who identified six elements in advertising thathave nostalgia-evoking qualities. Period-oriented symbols (used 30% of thetime) and Period-oriented music (28%) were indicated as the most preva-lent with the other elements being: references to past family experiences,the olden days, old brands, and patriotic references.

    Nostalgia is generally described as an emotional process (e.g., Stern,1992; Holak & Havlena, 1998) rather than a cognitive memory process (Belk,1990), although nostalgia has been shown to influence the type and order ofrespondents thoughts (e.g., Muehling & Sprott, 2004). Thus, both theories onmemory processes (i.e., thought processing and retrieval) and emotions areimportant theoretical underpinnings for understanding nostalgias effects inmarketing. As shown in Muehling and Sprott, there is considerable support inthe advertising literature for the relationship between ad-evoked emotionalresponses (feelings) and a consumers (1) formation of an attitude towardsthe brand (see Ray & Batra, 1983; Holbrook & OShaughnessy, 1984; Mitchell,1986; Edell & Burke, 1987), and/or (2) formation of an attitude towardsthe advertisements/expression of likeability to the advert itself (see Aaker,Stayman, & Hagerty, 1986; Batra & Ray, 1983; Machleit & Wilson, 1988;Stayman & Aaker, 1988). Thus, theories on attitudinal response, such as thedual mediation hypothesis (DMH) (MacKenzie, Lutz, & Belch, 1986), are alsoimportant underpinnings for studying nostalgia. These theories and how theyrelate to the variations of nostalgia are further explored in due course.

    Personal and Historical Nostalgia: Why Are They Different?

    The concept of different types of nostalgia (often referred to as personaland historical) is discussed by a number of academics (e.g., Havlena &

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  • 82 C. Marchegiani and I. Phau

    Holak, 1991; Hirsch, 1992; Holak & Havlena, 1992; Stern, 1992; Baker &Kennedy, 1994; Batcho, 1995). In exploring personal and historical nostalgiaseparately, we look to Stern (1992) and Havlena and Holak (1991) whoexplain that Personal Nostalgia are responses generated from a personallyremembered past (the way I was), while Historical Nostalgia are responsesgenerated from a time in history that the respondent did not experiencedirectly, even a time before they were born (the way it was).

    While this distinction of nostalgic appeals is made, empirical studiesdo not explore these varieties independently of one another. Holbrook andSchindlers (1991) previously discussed definition of nostalgia as being froma time when one was younger (in early adulthood, in adolescence, in child-hood, or even before birth) (p. 330) is a useful example of the unifiedview of nostalgia that is often used in empirical studies, with no distinctionmade between personal and non-personal times (i.e., before birth).

    Although of course Holbrook and Schindlers (1991) definition is cor-rect in explaining nostalgia as the unified concept they no doubt intended,evidence suggests that marketers may wish to be wary of testing nostalgicappeals in this way. In terms of previous work, Stern (1992) encapsulateswell the two appeals in suggesting as to what types of characters, values,settings and similarities (in terms of literature) are best suited to which formof nostalgia, and much of this can be applied to a marketing setting. Sternalso examines some products that may be better suited under the each typeof nostalgia. However, the comparable effects of each type of appeal asa promotion/marketing tool has on various consumers behavior reactions isnot determined or empirically measured. Stern (1992) also identifies somespecific cues for evoking the two different types. Personal nostalgia cuesincluded: familiarity, home and hearth, lifelike incidents, ordinary people,love, nurturance, and identification. These use memory as the perceiversmental process. Historical cues include: historical incidents, romance, rolemodels, aspirational/idealized characters, long ago settings, and sometimesexaggerated tones. Baker and Kennedy (1994) discussed peoples tendencyto embellish a reconstructed past when faced with this form of nostalgia.The mental process in this case is more fantasy/imaginary. Although thebehavioral response was in a proposed form (thus not containing empiricalresearch of suggested effects), the types of cues suggested do align with thereal/autobiographical versus imaginary/idealised issue on cognition thatis explored next.

    As discussed, this research intends to postulate that advertisers shouldbe exploring nostalgia as two separate appeals due to variation in consumerbehavior as a result of the appeal used. The reason why these differences areexpected to occur is based on the basic premise that personal nostalgia, bydefinition, deals with ones own past, whereas historical nostalgia does not.Research suggests that this will have varying effects on consumers. Theoriesto support this suggestion include the studies on Memory Systems (Tulving,

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  • Nostalgia Appeals in Advertising 83

    1972, 1984), and the theory of Autobiographical Memory (Brewer, 1986;Neisser, 1988), which has also been liken to personal (Brewer & Pani, 1983),or episodic (Tulving, 1972, 1984) memory.

    Autobiographical memory clearly has implications for personal nostalgiaas previous research (e.g., Muehling & Sprott, 2004) has shown that nostalgiastimulates this form of memory. Although it is often considered a modifiedform of autobiographical memory, as it is often somewhat filtered of negativethoughts (through rose-colored glasses) (Davis, 1979; Belk, 1990, 1991;Havlena & Holak, 1991; Holak & Havlena, 1992; Stern, 1992), it still makespersonal connections (Krugman, 1967). Nostalgic thoughts are said to beself-referencing in nature due to their connection or association with anindividuals real or idealized past (Belk, 1990; Holak & Havlena, 1992), whichis in line with the definition of personal nostalgia. This is of importance asthere is a connection between thoughts of a self-referencing nature andsalience of the thoughts (Greenwald, 1968).

    This suggested relationship between salience and self referencingthoughts is portrayed graphically in Figure 1. This figure is also used toexplain later effects of the two types of nostalgia. The aforementioned in-crease in salient thoughts can be seen in Muehling and Sprotts (2004) studyon nostalgia when the most salient thoughts of consumers exposed to a nos-talgia evoking print advertisement were those that made a connection (oftena personal connection) to something from the past.

    Historical nostalgia however, cannot share these personal connectionsor autobiographical traits in earnest as, although some personal connectionsmay be made, the response by definition is generated from a time in his-tory that the respondent did not experience directly, even a time beforethey were born (the way it was). Baker and Kennedy (1994, p. 171) alsosupported this in discussing simulated nostalgia in saying that someone

    Self -referencing

    Nature

    Salience

    Non-nostalgic

    Historical Nostalgia

    Personal Nostalgia

    FIGURE 1 Suggested conceptual relationship between the self-referencing nature of thoughtsand their salience under nostalgic conditions.

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  • 84 C. Marchegiani and I. Phau

    can feel nostalgic or attach a symbolic meaning to an object when, in fact,the person has never experienced the event which the object represents.Instead, historical nostalgia deals more with the theory of Collective Mem-ory (Halbwachs, 1950). Basically, collective memory is explained as beingshared, passed on, and even constructed by the group or modern society.This has also been discussed as a nostalgic equivalent of virtual reality(Holak, Matveev, & Havlena, 2008). This supports Sterns (1992) discussionof historical nostalgia as more imaginary, and Ross and Conways (1986)finding of people as inaccurate historians of their own personal information.

    By gaining knowledge of a time period and its associated objects, indi-viduals may come to feel they have an understanding of what it was like tohave been a part of them (Belk, 1990). This clearly shows that differences incognitive reactions at least should take place in respondents depending onwhat type of nostalgia is being drawn out. This is supported by Baker andKennedys (1994, p. 172) proposition that the more direct the experience,the more vivid the memories. These changes in cognition are expected toaffect other responses in consumers such as emotions, attitudes, and inten-tions (MacKenzie et al., 1986; Petty & Cacioppo, 1986; Vakratsas & Ambler,1999). In fact, nostalgic appeals/reactions have been specifically implicatedin altering all of these reactions in previous studies (e.g., Davis, 1979; Belk,1990; Stern, 1992; Havlena, 1998; Pascal, Sprott, & Muehling, 2002; Muehling& Sprott, 2004; Sierra & McQuitty, 2007).

    However, no comparison between the two distinct types of nostalgiathat respondents may experience was undertaken. Simply stated, as the cur-rent knowledge generated about nostalgias use in advertising has beengenerally limited to testing nostalgia as a unified concept, or at best indi-vidual types of the appeal without comparison, marketers are unaware ofmany of the differing effects or responses (if any) they may encounter whenusing specific forms of nostalgic appeals in their advertising. Some of theseexpected differences in consumer reactions are examined and suggested asareas of future empirical research.

    SUGGESTED FUTURE RESEARCH

    The Need for Scales

    If personal and historical nostalgia are to be subject to research, indepen-dently or comparatively to each other, it must be clear when consumers ar...