The Great Brand Redux: Leveraging Past Campaigns With a New Twist

By testing all video creatives, marketers can look cross-sectionally and within categories to understand the complex communication required to have an impact with today’s increasingly challenging consumer. 

In iSpot’s Marketing Master series, we will look at what marketers are actually doing, rather than being prescriptive about what they should do. We look at these marketing practitioners not in judgment, but for education and information. In today’s world, the rules are different, consumer’s have changed and what defines a successful video ad campaign can take a multitude of paths.

As consumers adjust to a post-pandemic world, marketers are taking the opportunity to dust off, spiff up, and refresh their brands to reemerge with new focus and attitude.

Revitalizing or relaunching older brands can have some clear advantages for the brand owners and is often a matter of survival. Growth in new consumer segments (particularly rising younger buyers) is key, but so is attracting lapsed users that may have forgotten or wandered away from the brand. Many advertising techniques are employed during the rebrand, from creating emotional states of nostalgia and comfort by recalling bygone glory days, to reinventing the product for new or expanded consumers.

Testing is still the best way to ensure your ad will connect with viewers as intended. Below are some examples of how current marketers at mature brands are attracting today’s fickle consumers. 

 I.  Bridging Old and New—Leveraging past campaigns with a new twist

Extending and embellishing previous ad campaigns can appeal to both lapsed and current users of the brand while also trying to attract new users. Leveraging previous brand associations such as taglines, packaging or creatives can capitalize on immediate brand awareness and perceptions—which can be both positive and negative, and can differ by consumer segment. For example, while a brand may modernize its image with new music to engage young buyers, older consumers may object to the change, or even the music. Brands need to walk a careful line to entice new buyers while maintaining a positive reaction for their core customers.

Maxwell House – “Jacksonville Factory :30”

A good example is Maxwell House Coffee leveraging its decades old “Good to the last drop” tagline. In ads that broke mid-pandemic (June 2020) and shrewdly recognized the times by showing the employees who make the coffee, the brand reshaped their classic tagline into “When your grind makes everyone else’s possible, that’s good to the last drop.”

Viewer ratings of the Single Best Thing about the ad confirm that the core message was delivered successfully and the brand strength was preserved.

The ad scored +14 points above norm in Brand Recognition. Successfully remaining true to the brand, the spot also delivered a Change in direction relevant to the times that was both Likeable and Relatable across the gen pop audience.

Scores are indexed to one year coffee & tea norms.

“With so many companies having to pitch their products making claims about how they are new and different or more technologically advanced, it is so refreshing that a company can make such a positive statement because it’s just exactly the same as it’s always been. I appreciated the nostalgic images, especially the blue truck at the first scene. I love the testimony of employees who have obviously been on the job for a long time. I found the music in the background to be comforting and not distracting. But most of all, the ad just made me want to go get a cuppa coffee, so job well done.”

Female 50+

“I liked the message of it and what it stood for and it made me want to look up more about it.”

Male 21-35

I really like this ad; it feels relevant to the times we’re living in. Plus, the images of the coffee beans and coffee look delicious.”

Female 36-49

Folgers – “We’re No One Hit Wonder :15”

Another coffee stalwart, the 170-year-old Folgers, launched “No One Hit Wonder” in January 2022. This spot played their familiar jingle (recently rated the top brand audio logo by AdAge), “The best part of waking up…” and then transitioned into a much edgier Joan Jett “Bad Reputation” soundtrack to directly convey the message that Folgers is keeping up with the times with multiple flavors and roasts.

The ad scored more than 100 points above norm in overall Ace Score and outperformed across every demo segment including the younger 21-35-year-old cohort.

 “Great attention grabber. At first you’re like… oh man another nostalgic cup pour. But the music brings you back to how far the company has come along. Folgers has been in our family for as long as I can remember.”

Female 21-35

“I like the brand, the song and all of the varieties that Folgers now offers. I did not realize they had so many products to offer.”

Male 36-49

“It had upbeat music. The original jingle that everyone knows but flashed through many folgers products available, not just one showing the brand has something for everyone.”

Female 21-35

The music was disproportionately dominant in these connections, sparking Nostalgia while convincingly conveying the Prodtastic (and modern) nature of the brand’s offering.

Campbell’s – “Forever with You :15”

Many of us think about craveable comforts in emotional moments and when doing so, we often revert to products of our youth. Campbell’s played off this Nostalgia with an ad pairing the brand’s tomato soup with Goldfish crackers – what’s not to like?

That’s exactly how viewers reacted, providing a great example of leveraging a familiar “comfort food” brand in an updated setting and once again utilizing music to very powerfully connect the brand with Wholesome family moments.

“Campbell’s is an American staple in my opinion, I love that the commercial is diverse, the fact it shows father/daughter enjoying together. The music is catchy and the commercial is all around catchy and cute.”

Male 21-35

“Everybody love’s Campbell’s soup! I had tomato soup with pepperidge farm goldfish all the time as a kid. This ad makes me feel nostalgic.”

Female 50+

“I think it made the product look very appealing. I was craving the soup in the product. Also the family coming together was nice and gave me a Happy feeling.”

Male 21-35

With more than nine in ten consumers being either current or lapsed users (reflecting the stalwart status), the ad held onto the decades-old “Mmm. Mmm. Good!” tagline and generated tremendous “reminder” power. Close to 60% of viewers reported a higher or much higher intent to purchase after seeing the ad (+6 points over the packaged foods norm), with 93% recognizing the brand (unaided).

Next up in our series, we will take a look at brands taking even bigger risks by changing things up through innovations, modern messaging, and/or education.

About the Author

Peter Daboll has more than 25 years of experience in the science of measuring advertising effectiveness and is a recognized expert in understanding what makes advertising successful. He has spent his career developing and implementing analytical models and testing systems to measure consumer response to advertising. In his current role, Peter Daboll serves as Chief of Strategy and Insights for after his company, Ace Metrix, was acquired in late 2020. As CEO of Ace Metrix, Mr. Daboll has led the company in developing innovative metrics and methods for helping advertisers make better, more impactful video creative.