Fender wants to tap into nostalgia, experiential as people are ‘drawn to the vintage look’

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Fender is tapping into its history and heritage, using nostalgia marketing and experiential to get the attention of its current consumer base as well as new musicians. The brand is doing so to promote its new line of instruments, American Vintage II, a roll out of designs from the ‘50s, ‘60s and ‘70s remade for today’s consumers.

“People are drawn to the vintage look and craftsmanship from past eras,” said Matthew Watts, svp of marketing at Fender, adding that the brand is aiming to “bring forth that feeling of nostalgia” with its marketing efforts. “This campaign and product line is a great way for us to bring in the next generation of players to Fender’s legacy. Fender is over 75 years old but its legacy is still being written.”

This weekend, Fender will host a pop-up in Austin where consumers can enter a space that’s meant to feel like the ‘50s. Attendees will be able to touch and feel the brand’s new American Vintage II line, bringing the brand to life in-person, something the brand hasn’t been able to do in recent years with the pandemic, noted Watts, adding that prior experiences haven’t been focused on Fender’s brand but music in general. 

“It’s the first time we’re inviting people into a space created, curated and operated by Fender,” said Alanna Strauss, svp of creative and content at Fender. “It’s going to feel like you’re walking into the ‘50s, feel very retro and very throwback, like you’re living a music moment. You can even record on vinyl yourself. It’s going to be a place to love and celebrate music.” 

Roughly 80% of the brand’s advertising for this effort will be spent on digital and social channels like Google Display, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, Snapchat, Twitter, and a newer platform for musicians, Vampr. At the same time, the brand is adding new channels to the mix like a full-page print ad in the New York Times as well as a more brand-focused experiential effort. (Previously, in 2019, Fender hosted a concert series in Austin as part of SXSW.)

It’s unclear how much Fender is spending on the experiential or advertising for this effort as the brand did not provide exact figures. So far this year, Fender has spent $9.07 million on advertising, per Pathmatics data, which also found that Fender spent $10.9 million on advertising in 2021. Per Pathmatics, the brand spends roughly 23% of its monthly ad budget on desktop display, 23% on Instagram, 15% on Facebook, 13% on desktop video, 12% on Snapchat, 7% on TikTok and 6% on mobile display. 

Leaning into nostalgia for the brand makes sense to Landor & Fitch group creative director of experience Alasdair Lennox. “Fender is a brand that’s been implicitly involved in music culture that we’ve all grown up with,” said Lennox, adding that the brand’s history gives it permission to tap into nostalgia marketing, something that’s been more popular in recent years as a “result of global uncertainty.”

Aside from the recent retro line and nostalgia marketing, Fender has been leaning into platforms like TikTok to reach younger consumers. Going forward, the brand plans to continue to look for ways to maintain its current consumer base as well as reach new fans, per Watts.


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