Nowstalgia is the impulse to return to an imagined past by those who never experienced it in the first place. We’ve starting idolizing an exaggerated pre-COVID existence in a way which is likely to lead to dissonance in the future. Even before the pandemic, we’ve seen the phenomenon exploited.

Consider that #Nowstalgia is one of the fastest growing hashtags, cluttered with images of curated past “existences” absent masks and social distancing. Large gatherings—concerts, sporting events, festivals—are not surprisingly over-represented.

So how can we make sure we help clients navigate through consumers’ Nowstalgia? By being sober: we must be reverent and referential to the past but realistic about the future of experiential. We’re not serving anyone well by pitching replicated expressions of “past glory.” The future of experiential will be bright enough without borrowing illumination from an unrealistic past.

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