National Nostalgia Day (Feb 15th) – an opportunity for innovation

Nostalgia ain’t what it was!

Making use of assets from your past can be the best way forward for you for now and to create a better future.

Here are 4 reasons why Nostalgia gets overlooked as a resource for creativity and innovation:

  1. Novelty Rules – imagine going through life not eating the same food, or wearing the same clothes, or using the same route twice.

Yet that is how a lot of people respond to their creative outputs and products. Somehow if something is not completely new to you then it cannot be perceived as creative.

If ideas in the PR industry were an environmental resource we would be guilty of rapacious wanton abuse. The prevalence of ‘We-did-this-last-year-so-need-to-do-something-different’ thinking directs much of the creative response in the PR and creative industries.

Creativity is part-defined by its ability to add value: if it doesn’t add value it ain’t creative. Novelty for the sake of it does not necessarily add value.

  1. It’s about Context Stupid! Ideas and creative products are not conceived and delivered in a vacuum. They all operate within a context


People generate creative outputs of ideas. The context gives value to those ideas, and determines their creative outcome. No matter how great you think your idea is it ain’t worth jack until a third party recognises its added value in some way.

Often, there is no harm in re-using the same idea as the context will always be different; I have produced a news release which bombed and didn’t get any media coverage. Several weeks later, however, the same creative product was re-issued and it achieved national coverage; because the context was different.

If someone says: “This idea has been done before.” Respond with: “New context!”

  1. The complexity of an idea – where ideas are in reality, complex multi-faceted entities. Yet people assume that an idea is somehow a single entity

If told: “We-did-that-idea-last-year”. No you did not: you used a particular combination of elements within a specific context.

When you are trawling through former work and ideas there could be some aspect of the idea which can be re-used, adapted to your current or future context.

  1. Retro may be in. If you retain exactly the same combination of elements of an idea or creative product the cyclical nature of life can mean that the fashionable-adding-value idea of one era may work again.

The idea has not changed. The world has, and has come back to you.

I remember once working for an ice cream company where I attended a trade exhibition by a very quaint small trade body called the Ice Cream Alliance. On display were some 1950’s style promotional posters. (‘I love daddy, I love mummy, I love ice cream’ was a particular favourite.)

I said to the chief exec of the trade body: “This is a great idea reprinting these old-style posters.” Which met with the response: “We haven’t reprinted them. They have been our current poster for the last 20 years.”

Retro may be in. And nostalgia in these cases can give you undiluted added value.

So, just because if something has been used before, from your past or earlier age it does not mean it cannot be creative or innovative. 

That is not just nostalgic talking. Rather, the sage advice from someone on a quest to add value to things today and the future.

Nostalgia – it could be your best innovation and creative friend for a better tomorrow!

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