The “It” Factor: Tap Into Nostalgia for Maximum Marketing Resonance

October 14, 2017

It Movie

Historically speaking, movie remakes and sequels perform really well at the box office. In fact, 33 of the 50 highest grossing movies of all time are sequels, reboots, or remakes. The original stories are so well loved that audiences are eager to see a continuation or reiteration.

This brings us to Hollywood’s latest remake success: “It.” Geared up for the big screen, 2017’s reimagining of the iconic Stephen King novel has become an explosive box office success and the largest September movie release ever. This tremendous reception reflects a reality we see often in today’s entertainment world – when done right, nostalgic callbacks with recognizable characters, themes, and source material can gain powerful traction.

To help you hook audiences and keep them coming back for more like a good movie remake, we gathered a few nostalgia lessons from Pennywise the Dancing Clown and The Losers’ Club.

If you haven’t seen “It” and wish to remain spoiler-free, stop reading now as this post will contain mild spoilers for the movie.

A New Spin on an Old Concept

Stephen King’s terrifying novel, “It,” is no stranger to film adaptations. The 1990 television mini-series took King’s characters and put them through extreme circumstances, so much so that today’s audience would find it to be campy. The 2017 reboot dutifully embraces those moments while also adding plenty of fresh touches to make it enjoyable for a new generation. For example, the screenwriters added more mystery by never recovering Georgie’s body, leaving the characters to question whether or not he was really dead.

Content marketers can revive previous content in a similar fashion: Stay true to the core theme while introducing a new twist. If big budget studios lean heavily on proven winners, there’s no reason content marketers shouldn’t as well.

Optimized for Millennials

The new “It” was released at the perfect time for the intended audience. With the original mini-series adaptation airing when many millennials were children, the reboot has arrived when many millennials are still discovering their relatively new adulthood. Aimed at the children who grew up with and adored the mini-series, “It” is nostalgic for millennials, reminding them of their childhood through relatable characters and a familiar 1980s setting.

Millennials represent more than a quarter of the US population and already take up nearly half of the US workforce. As a large subset of the consumer and professional population, it’s wise for marketers to create strategies around their preferences and tastes. After all, nostalgia is all about being able to empathize and relate to a scenario or topic.

Fear is Powerful and Relatable

No matter who you are, there is something that scares you. That thought is what became the genesis for the shape-shifting creature, Pennywise the Dancing Clown. Taking the form of whatever you dread most, Pennywise is the pure embodiment of fear and will haunt many nightmares to come. It’s part of what made the novel and subsequent films wildly successful. Through the crippling effects of fear, the story elicits screams, gasps, and probably a few tears from the audience ensuring they never forget the time they saw “It.”

Marketers aren’t trying to horrify; we just want to create positive, memorable experiences. The problems we solve are less adrenaline-laced than those on the silver screen, yet we both win fans by acknowledging and resolving the innate emotions that accompany every audience’s journey.

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