How Nostalgic Films Help Brands Connect With Consumers


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Turn the Past Into Profits For Your Company

Most of us didn’t grow up on purpose, but while we were busy earning college degrees, developing relationships and building our careers, we somehow arrived at ‘adulthood’ whether or not we wanted to. There are undeniable perks that come with not being a child; you can stay awake as long as you’d like, spend your money as you wish, and enjoy a glass of wine at the end of the day. Still, we find ourselves reminiscing about carefree summer days spent by the pool.

And being able to be taken back to these past moments and memories in our lives is a gift from Hollywood. Hollywood loves revisiting the past through favorite movie sequels, and when it does, brands can jump on board all the hoopla by becoming part of the content, or leveraging the allure of the film in their own marketing efforts. In this blog, Hollywood Branded uncovers how nostalgic films help brands connect with consumers and increase sales from highly anticipated sequels, reboots and spinoffs.

Nostalgic Films

The Allure of The Hollywood Sequel

Hollywood can’t pack your lunch with a note and send you back in a time machine to junior high, but it can transport you nonetheless. In Greek, nostalgia literally means “pain from an old wound”, and it’s one form of pain we can’t seem to get enough of.

As humans, we crave the familiar, and the entertainment industry knows it. From feature films to television, it’s evident that reboots, spin-offs and sequels are the bloodline of modern media. The evolution of Hollywood’s “Sequel Machine” was not the result of a lack of originality, but instead developed as a strategy to control risk. Studios are in the business of producing very expensive content for tens of millions of people, but how can they be sure these people are interested?

Not so long ago, going to the movies was an integral part of any American family’s routine life. In first half of the 20th century, we went almost every week. Today, with the numerous streaming services easily accessible, going to see a film while it’s still on the big screen is often a treat reserved for special occasions. The average movie-goer doesn’t have the time, the money or the desire to see every film that’s screening, but you can bet that when their favorite childhood characters return, they’ll be sitting front and center when the theater lights dim.  

product placement guide

Product Integrations

Before brands can facilitate successful product integrations, it’s important they have an understanding of what product integration is, and how it differs from product placement.

Product placement is the act of placing a product within a scene so that the viewer notices it, building brand recognition.

Integration makes the product an important part of the story.

When the original Toy Story film was released, sales of the Mr. Potato Head toy increased by 800 percent and Etch-A-Sketch sales went up by 4,000 percent. The Slinky Dog hadn’t been on shelves in toy stores for years, but the film’s success brought them back into business. Children loved seeing these characters as heroes on the screen, so much so that they needed to have their own to play with. When the fourth film arrives in 2019, the same children who loved these products in 1995 will be in the theater... now with children of their own.

In fact, be sure to read our blog on Toy Story Effect: How Film's Product Placement Increased Sales Of Toys 


The Mastery Of Product Placement

It’s no surprise that if the film is expected to create a major toy sales impact, what parent doesn’t want to see their child finding joy in the toys they once played with? If your brand depends on the youngest consumers in the market, simply placing your product in the background of a scene is a waste of efforts.

Similarly, the Lego Movie franchise has mastered the art of product integration. The Lego Movie and the Lego Batman Movie proved that there is a market for feature-length advertisements. Even with the film so clearly being an example of product integration, fans of the popular toy are more than willing to spend money to watch their favorite childhood memories save the day.


It's Not Just Kid Movies

Toy manufacturers are not the only brands capable of pulling profits from nostalgia by taking advantage of opportunities for product integration. Audiences of all ages eagerly return to the theaters for sequels and reboots of their favorite stories, even if several decades have passed between films.

25 years ago, Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park captured audiences and broke box-office records its opening weekend. Despite an 11 year hiatus between films 3 and 4, fans once again broke records, becoming the first film in cinematic history to generate over $500 Million in a single weekend. Starbucks and Mercedes were quick to integrate their products into the film, increasing brand awareness around the world.

Familiar films have a higher chance of profiting and being popular than films that are original, because they already have a loyal fan base who will pay to see the movies in theaters. Don’t believe us?

Just look at the highest-grossing movies from 2017! From Spiderman’s relaunch with Homecoming and the 8th addition to the Fast and the Furious franchise, to a live-action Beauty and the Beast and a third Despicable Me, all ten films that made the list were stories we already knew. If your product can help some of our favorite heroes save the day, fans will notice.

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Brand Partnerships Through Marketing Co-Promotions

Product integrations are an awesome way to promote your brand and boost sales, but what if your products don’t exactly fit the franchise? Forcing a product into a story it simply doesn’t belong in is challenging, not to mention noticeable.

Remember that scene in Finding Dory where Nemo eats a bowl of Kellogg’s cereal, wipes his face with a Bounty paper towel, and stops at Subway for his sandwich before saving his friend?

Of course not; not only would this feel incredibly forced, it would interrupt the story and might even discourage viewers from wanting to support these companies. Still, these brands managed to take advantage of the Finding Nemo franchise when the sequel finally arrived, 13 years after the original film was released. Knowing that older audiences would be excited for the Nemo’s return, several brands made the smart decision to partner with the film.


Partnering with films is an excellent marketing move, and the right choice for many brands who are interested in appealing to a wide range of consumers. When a franchise has a massive history of success, as was the case with Finding Nemo, Toy Story, Pirates of the Caribbean and more, fans trust them like old friends. They associate good memories with the films, and are more open minded to products connected with these stories.

product placement infographic - free download

How To Partner With A Film

There are dozens of creative and effective ways to partner your brand with a film. The highly anticipated Disney film, Incredibles 2, provided great opportunities for brand partnerships. Clorox partnered the film for a co-branded sweepstakes campaign, while Coppertone sunscreen and Alaska Airlines incorporated the family of superheroes directly on their spray bottles and airplanes.

Check out our blog Brand Partnerships In Incredibles 2


When fans notice that their favorite childhood characters endorse a product, no matter how fictional the character may be, they begin to view your product with that same fondness.

More Than Just Marketing

Media influences our culture and lives in more ways than we might like to admit at times. Films and television shows remind us of specific, defining moments in our lives that shaped the adults we became.

The biggest fans of nostalgic franchises are now grown, with disposable incomes and growing families. By partnering with successful franchises, your brand has the potential to reach several generations- the old fans, the new fans, and everything in between.

Check out some of our other agency blogs that talk about best marketing practices for product placement and brand integration partnerships:

Ready to learn more about product placement and promotions for your brand? Then check out our Guide To Product Placement & Promotions 101!  It is chock full of information that will help you on your path to leveraging millions of eyeballs who watch their favorite content, and see your brand as part of the story.

Product Placement & Co-Promotions 101 Guide