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Newsletter #1036: The “Throwback” Issue

[Welcome back to the Damn, I Wish I’d Thought of That! newsletter. This is text of the great issue all of our email subscribers just received. Sign yourself up using the handy form on the right.]

Everyone loves some good ol’ nostalgia. Just think of all the BuzzFeed articles about the 90s, Throwback Thursdays, and Timehops. All you have to do is glance at your social media feed to see that people are all about reminiscing, bringing back old traditions, and making history relevant again.

Here are three ways companies and organizations are doing the same to create unique marketing moments:

1. Holiday Inn’s “Circle of Life” wakeup call
2. Coke’s “Surge Movement”
3. The White House’s “Big Block of Cheese Day”
4. Check it out: MS-DOS Games for your browser

1. Holiday Inn’s “Circle of Life” wakeup call

Every Spring Break, the Holiday Inn in Panama City Beach, Florida, wakes up their guests by blasting The Lion King’s “Circle of Life” from their speakers at 11:00 AM. Most of the spring breakers come out of their rooms and sing along from the balconies. Guests even look forward to it. Holiday Inn could play anything, but instead, they chose something a lot of their 20-something spring breakers grew up with and love.

The lesson: We’re guessing that this is partly a fun tradition for the hotel, but also a great reminder to students that checkout time is coming up. Either way, Holiday Inn says hundreds of people call every year just to make sure they’re keeping up the tradition.

Learn more: People

2. Coke’s “Surge Movement”

A billboard outside of Coca-Cola’s headquarters had a plea from their fans: “Dear Coke. We couldn’t buy Surge, so we bought this billboard instead.” It also pointed to a Facebook group called the “Surge Movement,” a group of people calling for the return of their discontinued 90s citrus drink. So Coke brought it back — but they didn’t just put Surge back on the shelves, they sold it exclusively on Amazon (and immediately sold out). Even better, they made the people who asked for its return the heroes, featuring interviews with the “Surge Movement” starters on their corporate site.

The lesson: They’re not the first brand to bring something back by popular demand, but because Coke focused on the fans that made it happen and still kept that air of exclusivity, they made Surge’s comeback a blowout success.

Learn more: Vimeo

3. The White House’s “Big Block of Cheese Day”

When President Andrew Jackson was in the White House, he brought in a 1,400-pound block of cheese into the foyer for an open house. Anyone could carve out a piece, ask questions, and socialize with the White House staff. To bring back that same sense of opening their doors to the public — without actually opening the doors — President Obama’s White House staff hosted a virtual “Big Block of Cheese Day” to field questions on a bunch of social media channels.

The lesson: It’s OK to update a tradition to fit with the modern world. But by holding on to the spirit of the “Big Block of Cheese,” the White House brought a special sense of history and tradition to what’s basically just a Q&A session.

Learn more: The White House Blog

4. Check it out: MS-DOS Games for your browser

In the Internet Archive’s Software Collection, MS-DOS games like Oregon Trail, Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Super Street Fighter II, and tons more are at your fingertips in all of their pixelated glory.

Check it out: Archive.org

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