In recent days, Nintendo has scored big with two releases that play heavily into the nostalgia of tech users and gamers worldwide: the Pokemon Go app and the announcement of a revamped Nintendo NES that will go on sale in November. In both cases (a bit more so on the Pokemon side) fans received the news with great enthusiasm and flocked to get their hands on these products.
Pokemon Go, in particular, has reaped great success for Nintendo, taking the first spot on the App Store on the day of its release, and making a big cultural wave on their users. Most of them are old enough to remember watching the TV series as children, and it shows on the high enthusiasm triggered by the release of the game. Even though few countries had the app officially enabled, as of the publishing time of this post, this hasn’t affected players’ excitement, who are using alternative downloading sites to get the game.
It doesn’t matter if the game consumes plenty of battery and data, or if it puts its users at risk for cellphone theft and other accidents, Pokemon mania is growing again with no signs of stopping, as if we were in the late 90’s. Why? Because it’s a childhood dream come true for many millennials who grew up watching the series as kids, and wanted to catch all their beloved characters. Also, it gives them a great opportunity, especially if they’re parents, to share their passion for the anime and strengthen their bonds.
Can this be replicated for every old brand?
Not so fast! These type of strategies only work if they’re well executed and researched. Also, timing is essential and it’s not always within our control. Let’s review the most important points to consider before re-launch time.
It must be relevant: It’s rare for a brand or concept that wasn’t successful on its original release to hit it big the second time around. When thinking about bringing back an old favorite, take off your rose tinted glasses and set down strategic reasons of why and, most importantly, how to do it well. Think about the reality of the current market and whether your brand can fit in it.
But not everything needs to be revived: As some Hollywood sequels and remakes have taught us in recent years, sometimes it’s best to leave the magic of the past where it belongs. Think long and hard if this is the right time to resuscitate a previously loved concept or if customers have already moved on.
One recent example is the re-boot of the Ghostbusters franchise, released this year. Despite its moderate success in theaters, the movie’s first trailer became the most disliked movie trailer in YouTube history. Also, critics and fans commented that it’s missing the charm from the original movie and have qualified it as “bland”.
To revive a brand and have it deemed as “bland”, better to not revive at all.
Tell a great story: Emotions are powerful and they are the drivers behind the purchase decision. When bringing back a previously successful brand or item, you have a great opportunity in your hands to use storytelling as the main communication strategy, because there is already a history with the product.
You don’t have to dust off the original commercial and reformat it into 4K quality. Put yourself in your customer’s shoes and create a story fit for modern times, with a nod to the past. Also, customers can guide you by sharing their own experiences. This has been the case for Pokemon Go: every day, we see new stories about how the game has brightened people’s days and even changed some lives.
But make sure the experience lives up to customers’ expectations: When things “just don’t feel the same as they used to”, not only our inner child’s heart breaks in disappointment, but also sales suffer. Expectations for the return of an old brand favorite are high, even more so than for a new product. Take into consideration that all the elements of the experience work efficiently and seamlessly.
A good example of this could be the staggering difference between the first and the second wave of Star Wars movies, released in the 21st century. Fans reacted with disappointment to the trilogy released in the early 2000’s. The plot and the introduction of poor characters tarnished the legacy of a classic franchise.
The release of Episode VII earlier this year changed the tune right away. This was the first movie released under the Disney flag and fans were excited to see what it would bring. It returned the franchise to its old glory: old characters returned with their original actors, and new elements captured some of the magic from the original films.
Bringing back an old favorite has its own set of challenges and expectations. But this shouldn’t deter you from re-launching your classic brand – if you see a genuine opportunity in the market. The biggest lesson Pokemon Go has taught us marketers, is that as long as the spirit of the brand and the emotional connection is still there, it can be successful beyond our imagination.