The world may never know. Nostalgia: the last refuge of a scoundrel.
What with the economy in the tank and all, and Mad Men a cultural phenom, "Advertising" (which as we know is a big amorphous entity, kind of like "Media") is turning to nostalgia. Says a guy at Pepsi, which is unveiling some retro packaging: ""It's about yearning for the past, a simpler time, even though the '60s and '70s were not simple...They just seem simple, looking back."
Like Pepsi, the usual Capitalist suspects - think Mickey D's, Coke and General Mills - are resorting to vintage jingles and old timey logos to foster a sense of security and, presumably, both retro-low pricing and antique quality. Even in cases like Target, which didn't actually exist in the eras it's seeking to evoke. The results, however subconsciously comforting, are consciously mixed: for every "Fabric of Our Lives" return (Zooey Deschanel's apparently covering it, no less) there's an annoying "Meet the Buttertons," with all the subtlety of a Sam Mendes take on suburban malaise. And the "How Many Licks" Tootsie Pop campaign has yet to make its appearance - possibly due to unfortunate Urban Outfitters Ironic Shirt associations.
While the trends are obviously demo-driven, it's still peculiar to think that we're harking back not merely to times of tremendous civil and cultural unrest, but also economic instability. Are we supposed to take a "this too shall pass" attitude, or merely remember a time when we were too young to care? Alternatively, is the message more profound? Here, says PepsiCo, was Joy. In the midst of life we are in death. Live each day to the fullest because youth is not eternal. Or - horrifyingly - is this movement a cultural Dorian Gray of sorts? Are we just plastering over our problems with vintage packaging and familiar pabulum? I guess the answer will be in the numbers. (Which, ideally, will be brought to us via Mathnet.)