Marketing Renaissance

Alison Brown | Group Account Director Marketing

Out with the new, in with the old

A marketing renaissance has occurred for some ‘old’ means of communication and brands looking to refresh their marketing strategies could benefit from taking a new look at old ways of doing things.


The biggest comeback of them all must be pre-recorded audio. Whether it’s business, tech, or true crime topics, people are enjoying listening to podcasts while they drive to work, take a shower or even work out. 

There’s something nostalgic and intimate about listening to stories. A child of the 80s, I grew up listening to veteran broadcaster Dick Weir host the Sunday Morning Children’s Radio Show and introduce pre-recorded narratives like Little Toot, Flick the Little Fire Engine and Sparky and the Talking Train. More than 30 years on and with the development of smartphones and apps, we can fuel our desire for good old-fashioned storytelling with podcasts and listen on-the-go.

Multi-episode true-crime story, Serial, was produced in 2014 for This American Life, a magazine programme for National Public Radio in the US. In three years it has had nearly 60 million downloads and is widely credited with kickstarting the success of podcasts around the world. It should be noted however, that the series got a lucky break, launching soon after Apple placed its podcasts app on the iPhone home screen, boosting the profile of podcasts and making them easier to access.

In New Zealand, media outlets have been getting on board the podcast bandwagon with Radio New Zealand and Stuff leading the way. Radio New Zealand got serious a year ago, appointing journalist Tim Watkin to produce new podcast series. Leading up to this year’s election, The 9th Floor, with its interviews with five of New Zealand’s former prime ministers, was a hit for the state broadcaster. It was number one for several weeks on the New Zealand podcast charts that Apple compiles and has been listened to more than half a million times – not counting downloads on podcast apps.

Even more popular was the Black Hands podcast about the Bain family murders for Stuff. Christchurch journalist Martin van Beynen converted an unpublished book about the murders into an 11-episode podcast that has been downloaded nearly 3 million times.

Silent videos

With most Facebook users leaving silent auto-play as their default setting, 85% of all video on Facebook is watched with the sound off. Like movie-goers in the silent film era, people are happy to enjoy the visual story by reading captions. In fact, people are often in environments where it’s preferable to have sound off, so brands need to consider adding captions to their video content at every opportunity. The rather unexpected comeback of ‘silent movies’ with captions can make the consumption of facts or statistics easier for the viewer. This becomes an important tactic to employ for any brand wanting to keep people interested for several minutes.

Town Criers

The old-fashioned town criers, complete with their booming voices and village bells, have been re-birthed in the digital age as social media influencers.

In the same way that a village would rely on its town crier to disseminate village news and important information, brands are using influential individuals to connect messages about a product or service with a brand’s online audience. The key to success for businesses is first doing the research and targeting the right influencers to work with.

Audience engagement is key

These marketing strategies all have one thing in common: They go back to the consumer and focus on what the audience wants. With all the advances in technology and endless analytics at our disposal, these new, old trends give people the trust and convenience that they want. Businesses considering their marketing options should aim for strategies that connect them with their audience on a level that gets listenership, video view time and engagement.