MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) -- Many of our childhood memories are tied to the things we watched or the snacks we enjoyed. Minnesota companies know this, too, and are cashing in using the power of the past.
It's rush hour at Schell's Brewing in New Ulm. In this case, it's a bottleneck of bottles filled with a brand-new batch of beer. But lately, Schell's has been thinking old school.
To get a fresh look for its Deer Brand beer, Schell's went back 70 years to the 1950s. They basically took the Deer Brand logo they used during the Eisenhower administration and re-introduced it in 2022, a sort of back-to-the future re-brand that's already paying off.
"It does perk up business. It attracts some new customers," Schell's president Ted Marti said.
Senior graphic designer Matt Irwin knew the logo was well before his time, but he also knew it would work.
"At some level I think there's probably a comfort," Irwin said. "A familiarity that people were looking for."
It's a trend that George John is seeing across the country. He's a marketing professor at the University of Minnesota's Carlson School of Management.
"That's the reason why nostalgia works. It hooks into history, it hooks into authenticity," John said. "It's actually a very powerful appeal. It even appeals at people who never really drank the beer in the first place."
Beer is one thing. Breakfast is another.
"That feeling of nostalgia can take you back to just a warm and comfortable place," General Mills' chief brand officer Doug Martin said.
For General Mills, it's Saturday morning cartoons. Kids of the '70s, '80s and '90s would get a bowl of cereal and plop themselves in front of the TV. Those kids grew up, but as Martin knows, they didn't forget.
"We've found that, you know, we can bring back some of these old cereal brand images and people love it. And they respond to it really well, and it just connects to a positive moment and to a positive association in their minds," Martin said.
Over the past, few years, vintage boxes of Wheaties, Cheerios, Lucky Charms and Cocoa Puffs have graced store shelves. But the slam dunk was Dunkaroos, which was discontinued in the '90s, but brought back during the pandemic.
"Phase one was let's just give out 5,000 boxes online, and those were claimed in less than a minute. And that's when we knew OK, there's really something here," Martin said.
Stores sold out right away. They even made Dunkaroos clothing available online.
"Think about like Hypercolor clothing and some Dunkaroos," Martin said. "It connected with a moment in time for people."
John says Minnesota companies more than a century old are taking a page out of the Disney playbook. Newer generations never saw the original Mickey Mouse cartoons and movies, but still find the characters appealing. It's the same thing with many of these brands.
"They're not really characters in contemporary TV shows, which is what they were back in the day. However, Disney's done a masterful job of keeping it relevant to a new generation, multiple new generations," John said.
He says bringing old brands back is a marketing strategy that only works from time to time. But when it does, it's a win for Minnesota companies, consumers and collectors,
"They don't really make much money out of the thousand people that collect it, but it imbues the brand with a sense of authenticity you couldn't buy with money," John said.
Schell's is also toying with the idea of bringing back old logos for their Firebrick Beer. From a collector's standpoint, the market for old Minnesota brand merchandise, like Hamm's Beer and others, has been hot since the pandemic began.
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