Posts Tagged ‘nostalgia’

Time for some nostalgia marketing for Labour

23/05/2012, 07:00:05 AM

by Peter Goddard

We are living, as the old Chinese curse has it, in interesting times. Greece is on the verge of exiting the Euro, in Spain, Bankia has to deny rumours of a run, the News International debacle just keeps on going. Short of Rebecca’s horses eating each other, the signs that the old certainties no longer apply couldn’t get much worse.

The Tories are playing directly into this narrative of unease with their programme of cuts, cuts and more cuts. And this week they have further identified themselves with the sense of national uncertainty and fear with their plans to make sacking employees easer.

This close identification between the Tories and personal insecurity for so many people provides Labour with an opportunity to offer something different.

Leaving it to finer minds to identify the policies that might take the country through this traumatic period and into happier times, there are a range of things we can do in terms of messaging and presentation to maximise the attractiveness of the party during a period like this.

It is a widely-agreed truth in marketing that in times of hardship or recession, nostalgia becomes a powerful ally.

As Martin Lindstrom says in his book, Brandwashing, “In the face of insecurity or uncertainty about the future, we want nothing more than to revert to a more stable time.”

Marketers have been acting on this for some time already. Back in 2009 the New York Times reported that, “As the recession continues taking its toll, marketers are trying to tap into fond memories to help sell what few products shoppers are still buying.”

Certainly things have not got any better since then.

Knowing this, what could Labour do?

First and foremost, it can stop reinventing itself, having ‘conversations’ in which nobody is really listening and obsessing about exactly what shade of what colour the Labour party might be today.

Secondly, it can start remembering, celebrating and reminding people of the substantial achievements of the Labour party, locating today’s party as the evolution of the party for people who stand up for the less fortunate.

The NHS. The sacrosanct-to-all-voters NHS that Labour built is the easiest example to point to, but there is much, much more.  The post-war social housing revolution, equalities legislation and most recently, rebuilding this country’s schools and hospitals after generations of neglect.

Practically, this can be achieved without mechanical repetition in speeches. Labour doesn’t have to trap itself in a retelling of the past to make its point.

What is required is some retro show don’t tell.


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The Sunday Review: Left in the past: radicalism and the politics of nostalgia, by Alastair Bonnett

10/04/2011, 01:40:51 PM

by Anthony Painter

There is a tragic oscillation that occurs cyclically on the left between over-confidence and capitulation. It is summarised by a Christopher Lasch quote in Alastair Bonnett’s study of the complex relationship between nostalgia and radicalism:

“Their confidence in being on the winning side of history made progressive people unbearably smug and superior but they felt isolated and beleaguered in their own country since it was so much less progressive than they were”.

As Labour enters office, it is certain in its knowledge of how progressive the country is. It leaves office in despair at how reactionary it is. Having tried to buy it off with reactionary and authoritarian language and policies, it is generally also perplexed. Labour, meet reality; reality, kick Labour. Only neither perspective is true. Britain is neither predominantly progressive or reactionary. It is, however, deeply conservative, which is an entirely different proposition altogether.

Progressives look to the future with gleeful zeal. Conservatives warily eye the past, in part longing and part warning, and step into the future only tentatively. In that sense, they are more attuned to the default human condition. We are a species that is disconcerted by convulsive change. How strange then that we have built an economy and society around such change – a key part of the radical critique of where we are. And how predictable it would be if there were a social and psychological reaction to such change. As Ian Dyck writes of farm labourers in the early nineteenth century:

“They remembered a better life and they wanted it back”.


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