by Bailey Carpenter
It was 11 p.m. on a weeknight, and having finally finished my homework, I settled in bed to watch TV. As I scrolled down the channel guide, I came to a sudden halt when I saw “Clarissa Explains It All” in one of the blue boxes, followed by “Kenan & Kel,” “All That” and “Doug.” I immediately slammed my thumb down on the “select” button.
What was this glorious gift from the TV gods? The first commercial break offered me an answer: “The 90s are All That” brought to you by the good people at TeenNick. It appeared someone had finally wised up at Nickelodeon studios and brought back TV favorites from the 90s, satisfying the cravings of 90s children nationwide.
Having previously planned to go to bed early, I ended up staying up into the early hours of the morning absorbing every second of shows that tickled my memory and made me miss my light-up Keds and neon windbreaker suit.
My excitement peaked, however, when another commercial break advertised the Twitter hashtag #90sAreAllThat and handle @90sareallthat_. I immediately pulled up the Twitter feed and found that I was not alone. Thousands of my peers were vigorously tweeting about the two-hour block:
audude08: “Its U Pick on @90sareallthat_ now watching #Doug. I love those 90s Nick shows… brings back the memories.”
AdamChaseFields: “@90sareallthat_ is the best thing that’s happened to television in SO long”
Kayla Aldridge: “@90sareallthat_ thanks for playing all these shows that i love.”
Bralein: “Made a Twitter account because I wanted to tell @90sareallthat_ that I want to see Aaahh!!! Real Monsters!”
Being the PR nerd that I am, I could not help but to reflect on the way Nickelodeon was not only bringing back its original audience from the 90s, but also incorporating the current lifestyle of that audience.
Nickelodeon is not the only network to take advantage of these connections: both Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts from my peers when Disney brought The Lion King back to theaters. According to a PR Newswire article, the film grossed $30 million in its opening weekend.
It seems now that my generation has some discretionary income, networks like Disney and Nickelodeon are using nostalgia to re-gain us as an audience and increase their profits.
In an Oct. 21 blog post, Kiren Pooni said, “The marketing and PR industries have successfully used nostalgia to play on the emotional connections consumers build with brands. When this is done well it is possible for former glories to be restored.”
It is safe to say that Nickelodeon and Disney have both “restored their former glory.” The 90s Are All That has expanded to include the TV show “Hey Dude” and brought back Stick Stickly to host an “interactive” portion of the two-hour block. Stickly’s show plays different 90s Nickelodeon favorites, as voted for on the 90s Are All That Facebook page.
Disney not only profited from the theatrical re-release, but is also experiencing high sales for The Lion King Blu-ray DVD released Oct. 4.
“Consumers are jumping at the chance to re-engage with their past and wrap themselves in the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes from nostalgia,” Pooni said.
One major advantage of The Lion King’s return to the theater was that it not only brought in lines of now 20-somethings wanting to relive their childhoods, but also introduced the film to a whole new generation of children.
“What is clear is that in times of doom and gloom, there is comfort to be found in the ‘good old days’ and if you can capture that feeling in a brand, product or even a musical comeback, you could well be onto a winner,” Pooni said.
It looks like PR practitioners everywhere need to follow in the footsteps of Nickelodeon and Disney. Or, as Kel Mitchell says in “Kenan & Kel,” they should just say “aww, here it goes!” and incorporate nostalgia into campaigns aimed at sustaining audiences.