Today I received a thank you in a way that left me speechless and took me aback. It was a card. A hand crafted card — it had a printed self-taken photograph on the front with the sweet message written by hand (the type of handwriting that takes you back to grade six) in black pen.
For one, I was expecting a bill or two in the mail, or a flyer of some sort –things that are mass produced and smell of corporate. I was not expecting a homemade card. I also realized that usually the ThankYous I receive are usually done through email, Twitter, Facebook, SMS, or a phone call. Sure people thank me in person, but when they want to make a nice gesture the Thank You usually comes in some sort of form, that form is usually electronic. I understand that individuals still give one another printed birthday cards, but as time goes on I receive more thank-you, birthday, congratulations cards via soft copy. This is extremely telling of our society’s communication; our relations with one another are digitized.
There is something about this card, it smells of nostalgia and has an innate child-like essence. It feels so real — and so did the thank you.
Nostalgia. The key word in my entire experience. The concept of nostalgia is one that I familiarized myself through several English and media classes, mostly because akin to sex nostalgia sells novels and products. This is especially effective during times like the recession. Dr. Barbara B. Stern explains the effectiveness of “nostalgia” in consumer culture during times of financial uncertainty:
The emergence of nostalgia as a dominant theme at the ends of centuries has been called the fin de siecle effect, “endism” (Showalter 1990)…. The phenomenon expresses cultural anxiety about the experience of discontinuity associated with an era that is, in Matthew Arnold’s words, “between two worlds, one dead, the other powerless to be born” (“Stanzas from the Grand Chartreuse,” ll. 85-86). (AllBusiness.com)
Simply, Dr. Stern is stating that during difficult times people are in search of the sweet, comforting past. Naturally, advertisers use “nostalgia” as a signifier that by purchasing this product or service they are acquiring the past in the present. One of my favourite examples of this is The Fabric Of Our Lives ad campaign of Cotton Incorporated. They have made several videos featuring various celebrities illustrating how cotton has a permanent spot in their life and is timeless. Below is the most recent video from the campaign –and a personal favourite–featuring singer Colbiet Caillat:
Caillat’s music is essential to the creation of nostalgia in this ad, but the visuals aid in the creation. The colours of orange, blue, white, and yellow all suggest happiness, serenity, and a homely comfort. Essentially what the ad is doing is attempting to associate cotton with “safe” –cotton will always be a fabric that you can rely on. This “timeless” quality suggests that if an individual were to purchase a cotton product, that product would be fool-proof, even during times like the recession.
There’s no place like home.
Can you see some other elements that create “nostalgia” in the video?