Harnessing Nostalgia: A Golden Opportunity for Brand Partnerships


Table Of Contents


An Ecosystem of Engagement

Nostalgia is not merely a yearning for the past; it's a burgeoning business strategy. The revival of old TV shows, movies, music, and fashion trends is becoming an essential facet of pop culture. Connecting with memories and emotions of yesteryears, nostalgia often fosters a profound and unique emotional connection with audiences.

But how can marketers seize this golden opportunity through brand partnerships? In this blog, Hollywood Branded will explore the possibilities and talk about a little movie you might be hearing about and its world of pink. 

top white rectangle  with black link (4)

Understanding the Nostalgia Wave

Nostalgia marketing is a strategy that taps into the fond memories associated with past cultural experiences, leveraging them to make products more appealing to consumers. This resonates with audiences as it brings back memories of simpler, joy-filled times.

Recent examples of nostalgia in pop culture include TV series reboots like "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air", "Fuller House", and "The X-Files" revival, and films like "Star Wars", "Ghostbusters" or the newly-released BARBIE, starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling. Have you seen the Barbie movie yet? You'd be hard-pressed to miss the explosions of pink and conversations across the news. These projects have successfully touched the hearts of fans, proving that nostalgia is not just a trend but a phenomenon.

Fuller House

Photo Credit: Netflix

Film and Television Product Placement - A Powerful Branding Tool

While collaborations don't have to include on-screen exposure to be successful, product placement serves as a subtle yet powerful means of embedding a brand within the entertainment we love. By positioning products naturally within a movie or TV show, the audience subconsciously associates the brand with the characters, themes, and emotions of the story.

In the BARBIE movie, product placement goes beyond mere advertising; it contributes to a world that many have a nostalgic connection with. By embedding brands both on-screen and off-screen that align with the Barbie identity, the film not only tells a story but invokes a deep, emotional connection with the viewers.

intro-1689886760Photo Credit: NICK STANIFORTH


It's not just television and film where brands can find authentic nostalgic partnerships. Reunion tours are growing in popularity, as are nostalgic bands of the '80s and '90s. I was just in John Varvatos where they have a whole collection of licensed album covers for t-shirts. It's cool to be nostalgic. 

If you watched Netflix's "Stranger Things," you know the power of how music-evoked nostalgia and contributed to the storytelling, with dozens of songs bringing artists back into the limelight of popularity and ripe for brand partnerships. My personal top 5 songs from the series include:   

  1. "Every Breath You Take" — The Police

    Used in a joyous scene that quickly turns sinister, the song adds depth to the scene by conveying a double-edged emotion reminiscent of 1980s pop hits.
  2. "Rock You Like a Hurricane" — Scorpions

    Introducing the character of Billy Hargrove, this song perfectly represents the impact and chaos he brings while also invoking 1980s hard rock nostalgia.
  3. "Never Ending Story" — Gaten Matarazzo and Gabriella Pizzolo

    This was my own personal favorite. The unexpected duet adds levity and fun to a tense situation and brings back memories of the 1980s fantasy classic, creating a strong nostalgia.
  4. "Master of Puppets" — Metallica

    Associated with the character of Eddie Munson, this heavy metal classic enhances his heroic act and pays homage to the 1980s metal culture. This scene made the song chart at No. 40, the first time Metallica has been on top 100 since 2008. 
  5. "Running Up That Hill" — Kate Bush

    Synonymous with Max's escape scene, this song adds intensity and emotion, capturing the powerful and ethereal vibe of 1980s art-pop.  The British pop star's song reached Number 1, 37 years after its initial release. That is insane.

Stranger Things x Metallica

Photo Credit: Getty

Crafting the Perfect Collaboration 

Finding the right partner that aligns with the nostalgic theme is crucial for the entertainment partner as well. Authenticity and shared values can't be compromised, as consumers are more likely to identify with genuine, heartfelt campaigns that ring true. 

The smash success of the BARBIE movie is an excellent example of success, with over 40 brand collaborations supporting the film's release. These partnerships have extended the nostalgia, tapping into the shared memories of childhood while embracing this summer's PINK trend. If you haven't hit the mall yet, you'll be surprised at the shockingly pink takeovers you will see, or when you do get to the theater, expect to see a room of people wearing pink.

If partnerships with others aren't your brand's thing, then consider a dive into your own archive vaults. Brands can leverage the power of their own nostalgia, like with Nike’s revival of retro shoe designs and Nintendo's re-release of classic gaming consoles. These collaborations work because they embody the essence of the past while offering something new, relevant, and cool.


Photo Credit: Nintendo of America, via Associated Press

Measuring Success and Avoid Pitfalls

Setting clear goals and metrics is essential to measuring the success of any campaign, including a nostalgic marketing partnership. Engagement, brand awareness (including media coverage), website visits or sales increases are common metrics that can demonstrate the impact of a campaign. 

Nostalgia marketing is not without risks. Potential challenges include over-reliance on the past or misjudging the audience's connection to certain nostalgic elements. Strategies to avoid these mistakes include thorough research, authentic storytelling, and maintaining brand integrity.  As marketers experiment with this approach, it must be done thoughtfully and authentically to avoid potential pitfalls and to create genuinely impactful campaigns.

Leveraging nostalgia for brand partnerships is a fun and effective strategy, connecting audiences with emotions and memories that resonate deeply. The BARBIE movie is a great example of the potential of nostalgia as a powerful marketing tool.

New call-to-action

Barbie Movie Branded Collaborations

The BARBIE movie's multiple brand collaborations have set a new benchmark, with significant spikes in sales and brand recognition. It's clearly a case study in effective nostalgic marketing. Warner Bros.' team did everything right with this film, and I'm sure they're looking forward to a much-needed vacation. This film had more collaborations than pretty much any other - and for a film that is so female-centric, that's a powerful statement to make. The list goes on:

  • Airbnb: Rent a real-life version of Barbie's Malibu Dream House for a night.
  • Aldo: A limited-edition collection from Aldo featuring 19 Barbie-themed pieces, including transparent heels, handbags, bedazzled sneakers, and platforms.
  • Alex and Ani: Offers a bangle featuring the iconic Barbie high-ponytail silhouette.
  • AQUA: A series of Barbie-inspired women's and girl's clothing from Bloomingdale's private label Aqua, including dresses, tees, blazers, and accessories.
  • ASOS: A gender-neutral line in a Barbie capsule, including a bubblegum-pink gender-neutral tank top.
  • Balmain: A high-fashion line refreshing the iconic Barbie collection from 2022 with dresses, cropped shirts, hoodies, and tweed suits in vivid colors.
  • Barefoot Dreams: Comfy loungewear collaboration for sleepovers, including logo-stamped blankets, sweatshirts, joggers, and robes.
  • Béis: Travel-themed collaboration with Shay Mitchell’s Béis featuring Barbie pink luggage pieces, including the Mini Weekender and Carry-On Roller offering a matching set of carry-ons, weekend bags, and cosmetic cases in Barbie style.
  • Boohoo: Fast fashion collaboration with Barbie.
  • Bumble: Collaborative feature with the dating app, offering advice and encouragement.
  • Canada Pooch: A line for pets that includes Barbie-themed pink ponchos, T-shirts, vests, bandanas, leashes, harnesses, and plush toys.
  • Chi: Including a range of Chi hair styling products in Barbie-related color schemes, such as the Totally Hair collection, the pastel pink and gold Dreamhouse collection, the baby pink Dream Pink collection, and the Malibu collection.
  • Cold Stone Creamery: A special ice cream treat designed after Barbie.
  • Cotton:On: T-shirt collaboration that serves as a versatile piece, able to be layered over denim or under a blazer.
  • Crocs: A collaboration featuring bright pink and black-and-pink Barbie-themed Crocs with embellished soles, and matching charms, including the Classic Clog and the heeled Siren Clog, as well as Barbie-themed Jibbitz charms.
  • Fossil: A collection of handbags in the shade "Raspberry Wine," matching Barbie's style.
  • Forever 21: Another fast fashion collaboration.
  • FUNBOY: This includes various Barbie-themed pool floats and accessories, including a two-person retro golf cart and a giant pink flamingo, enhancing the summertime Barbiecore experience.
  • Gap: Featuring adult and children's styles like T-shirts, hoodies, denim jackets, and more, even accommodating Barbie's pup with matching styles, with additional options for pets.
  • Google: I'm tossing this one in although it's not exactly official. If you look up Barbie on Google, you get pink flashing icons, and then the screen turns... you guessed it! Pink. T
  • Hot Topic: Offers a pink-and-white-striped Barbie cardigan and tie-dye baby tee, providing stylish options for warmth.
  • Impala Skate: Collaboration with Impala Skate includes neon yellow roller skates, protective pads, and Barbie-branded socks.
  • Kendra Scott: A jewelry collaboration offering necklaces and earrings in gold and pink stones, with a charitable component benefiting the Barbie Dream Gap Project.
  • Kitsch: Hair accessories, including a rhinestone claw clip, satin scrunchies, and heatless curlers.
  • Lele Sadoughi: A collection of headbands matching Barbie's chic, colorful, and maximalist approach to life.
  • MeUndies: MeUndies offers ultra-plush underwear, loungewear, socks, and accessories adorned in limited-edition Barbie print.
  • Mermade: Another set of Barbie-branded hair tools.
  • Moon: Collaboration around dental care.
  • OPI: Nail products including sparkles, pinks, and pastels.
  • PacSun: California-inspired collaboration with baby tanks, swimsuits, sweatshorts, and more.
  • Pinkberry: An on-brand alternative to Cold Stone's Barbie-themed ice cream.
  • Primark: Primark's Barbie collection features summer clothing, including neon swimwear, pink pajamas, and themed accessories.
  • Progressive Insurance: The LA premiere of BARBIE featured not only stars from the film but also Flo and Jamie from Progressive Insurance, whimsically referred to as "insurance's Barbie and Ken." Dressed in their iconic uniforms with Barbie-themed accessories, they were part of a broader brand collaboration between Progressive and Barbie That extended into Progressive's commercials, playfully incorporating Barbie and her Malibu Dream House.
  • Ruggable: Offering machine-washable Barbie-themed rugs in various designs like bright pink ombré, Barbie Signature Chevron, ivory and gold palm trees, plus pink logo doormats.
  • Show Me Your Mumu: A one-piece magenta-pink swimsuit that syncs with the boho-chic brand.
  • Superga: A collection of four styles of comfortable sneakers, including white sneakers with Barbie prints, pink denim sneakers, and platform sneakers.
  • Swoon: Unclear, perhaps a beverage or cosmetic product themed to Barbie's aesthetic.
  • Tangle Teezer: Part three of Barbie-branded hair tools.
  • Truly: Moisturizers and body scrubs for non-plastic skin.
  • Unique Vintage: A black-and-white-striped one-piece bathing suit identical to the one from the Barbie movie's opening scene.
  • Vans: Featuring a range of pink-colored shoes including high-top Sk8-Hi Vans, low-top Authentic Vans, Mary Jane-ish Style 93, and swirly slip-ons, along with a backpack and crop top.
  • Vooray: Fitness-focused brand offering Barbie-branded bags in three sizes for functionality and flair.
  • Xbox: Microsoft and Barbie collaborated to create a Barbie-themed Xbox Series S console with accessories, only to be won through sweepstakes, and also introduced downloadable content for "Forza Horizon 5" with Barbie-themed vehicles.
  • Zara: Inspired by costumes from the Barbie film, including gowns and denim tops for women and Canadian tuxedos and high tops for men along with beauty products and homeware items.

Barbie Brand ParntershipsPhoto Credit:Mattel, Xbox, Airbnb, Also, Nyx Cosmetics, Warner Bros.

The Barbie craze is not over for brands, and I expect we'll be seeing another movie in the very near future as the movie becomes even more of a global phenomenon. Warner Bros.' film promotional team and Mattel will have an onslaught of brand inquiries coming in a little too late, that will be sent over to the licensing team at the studio Mattel to build upon. 

Eager To Learn More?

The power of nostalgia as a business strategy cannot be underestimated. By tapping into cherished memories and emotions of the past, marketers can forge powerful connections with their audiences. The success of the BARBIE movie and its numerous brand collaborations serves as a testament to the impact of nostalgia marketing. Here are five additional blogs you might find interesting on the topics of the brand partnerships and entertainment industry: 

Want to stay in the know with all things pop culture? Look no further than our Hot in Hollywood newsletter! Each week, we compile a list of the most talked-about moments in the entertainment industry, all for you to enjoy!

New call-to-action