This analysis of nostalgia in print advertising communication aims to expand on the existing (accepted) categories of nostalgic representation (people, artefacts and events) within the literature study. Based on the framework of analysis in section 6 of this article which also includes the characteristics of advertisements as a genre and insights from the Social Representation Theory (SRT), this investigation has empirically contributed to the existing categories of nostalgic representation.
Objectification as part of the SRT was a central mechanism for the selection of examples in each of the new categories of nostalgic representation. The purpose of objectification is to transform the abstract (pride, heritage, love, etc.) into something concrete that can be touched, seen, etc. (crown, old photo, red rose).
The research aimed to address whether it was possible to expand on the existing and known categories of nostalgic representation (people, artefacts, and events) by means of empirical evidence (advertisements). This was done by providing a complete analysis of at least one example per category based on the suggested framework of analysis. The analysis included reference to the relevant visual and linguistic signs, the advertising appeals, and the type of objectification (within SRT) before identifying the implied marketing message linked to a nostalgic view on the past. The examples given were used to list the things that are typically nostalgically framed within the dataset.
The data included South African advertisements published between 2010 and 2017 in general-circulation magazines as well as category-winning advertisements in the Pendoring and Loerie advertising competitions during the same period.
Within the new category, cultural heritage, several subcategories have been identified: music and visual arts; language and literature; the arts and culinary nostalgia. The newly identified category, namely physical appearance, stems from the fact that nostalgia-driven advertisements often depict a specific era. This is typically achieved by including people with an appearance (clothing and hairstyles, etc.) characteristic of a given period.
Although the various types of objectification (personification, figuration, realisation, emotional objectification) are represented in the different categories of nostalgia, the incidence of emotional objectification is remarkable and understandable, given that nostalgia-driven advertising relates primarily to the emotions of the target market. The presence of a particular shared sentiment about the nostalgic past can be seen as indicative of the nature of the nostalgic longing shared by a particular community (target audience).
The investigation provided a list of what is romanticised in South African advertising and thus accepted by the intended target audience. This includes memories of the past about:
- enduring romantic love
- human icons (of personal or historical interest)
- the style of your parents’/grandparents’ home (decor) reminiscent of your childhood
- outdated technological tools such as old television set, cameras and computers
- significant political events
- the way things were done
- longing for music, art and entertainment from an earlier era (poetry, books, television series, etc.).
This study confirmed the validity of the conceptual model of analysis. The well-known categories of nostalgic representation now have three new categories added, namely physical appearance, the passage of time, and cultural heritage.
Keywords: advertising communication; cultural heritage; nostalgia; objectification; objectification as a construct (within the SRT); passage of time; physical appearance; Social Representation Theory (SRT)