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This is not just nostalgia marketing…

Why is M&S serving up reheated ads in the forward-facing world of marketing; is it nostalgia, laziness or inspired?

Twenty years ago, Dervla Kirwan and M&S seduced us with some of the most sultry food ads ever seen. Whether you’re young enough to call it nostalgia marketing, or old enough to simply consider it a return to form, the M&S “This is not just food” campaign is back, albeit with a twist. The original ‘food porn’ format now focuses on customers daydreaming about M&S food – and who can blame them? Check it out below.


Yet in the forward-facing world of modern marketing, isn’t it rather odd to be look backwards? In the age of rebranding, brand facelifts and the ‘next big thing’, why on earth would one of the UK’s best-known retailers want to revisit the past? Is it unimaginative? Lazy? Or simply inspired?


Could it be nostalgia-driven?

It’s true, nostalgia marketing is a ‘thing’. Experiencing an old favourite all over again generates the feel-good factor and resonates with the viewer – there’s an almost proprietary comfort to be found in the familiar. In fact, 71% of buyers are more likely to buy a product that appeals to them on a personal level, and nostalgia marketing works by linking your message to the audience’s deepest, fondest memories. Cue 80s music, the Muppets, children’s TV and old sitcoms!

Could it be trend-driven?

Yes, once more, retro is back – or did it ever really go away? We’re used to fashion recycling trends such as dungarees, drainpipes and stiletto heels, but now we see it with toys, TV programmes and the reviving interest in analogue technology, such as fountain pens, film cameras and vinyl records. So why should advertising be any different? Whether you’re reading this on Flashback Friday (#FBF) or Throwback Thursday (#TBT), retro is a great way to stir up some old memories and start a conversation.

Could it simply be a question of merit?

Let’s face it, we wouldn’t be remembering the food porn campaign if it didn’t work. It remains to be seen whether the modern take and tongue-in-cheek approach will work for M&S, but given the success of the originals, you certainly can’t blame M&S for giving it a try.


In our view, it’s a clever mix of all three. We like the new format. We applaud the more-mainstream-less-luxury message. And we enjoy the authentic M&S feel of that stunning food photography. But Dervla, where are you?


More than just another creative agency