Remember 2007? I remember most of it, except for the 40th birthday party. (Wooo, that was a wild night). 15 years ago, Internet Explorer was the most popular web browser. Bob Barker hosted The Price is Right. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End grossed almost $1 billion at the box office. Today, our world is seen through Google Chrome, Drew Carey hosts TPIR, and a billion people watched the Johnny Depp trial. Everything old is new again. Except me. I’m the same ol’ Dave you know and love.
The Mere Exposure Effect, also known as the Familiarity Effect, is a psychological phenomenon in which people develop a preference for things they have a history with. We like what we know. And we know what we like. When there’s context to what we’re experiencing, it reduces uncertainty and makes understanding ideas easier. I’ve always said, “Nostalgia can be a powerful brand driver.”
New ideas are rare. They often stem from familiarity redefined. Hollywood does this. In 2007, the top four box office blockbusters were sequels – along with the aforementioned Pirates, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Spider-Man 3, and Shrek the Third rounded out the top global producing films. Space Jam was a big hit in 1996. Michael Jordan and the iconic Looney Tunes characters were reimagined in 2021 with LeBron James starring alongside more modern animation. The studio saw the potential to reinvent the highest-grossing basketball film of all time. They wanted to appeal to a newer, younger audience but also give Space Jams fans some familiarity. The original was good, but the sequel….ummmm….it was a nice try.
TBWA/Chiat/Day launched Apple’s iPod “Silhouettes” campaign in 2003 featuring black silhouettes moving and grooving to music played from the white devices against monochromatic backgrounds. In 2007, the black silhouettes were reintroduced in dramatic color. TBWA/Media Arts Lab is bringing the silhouettes back in 2022 with a new sound and new product — Harry Styles and AirPods. Why has this spot hit the spot for many? It’s simple. Reimagining the colorful campaign sparked an interest in both audiences for two different reasons: inspiration and familiarity.
There are many different factors that contribute to a consumer’s decision to buy, and familiarity is a key driver. Think about it. Have you ever bought a product or service you’ve never seen or heard of? No. The answer is simply no. Brand awareness is all-important and being recognizable builds trust and increases the likelihood of your brand or product or service being chosen over another. In other words, #BoldBrandsWin.