Adidas Yung Series: the power of nostalgia

Written by Phil Birss: Group CEO.
· 4 minute read

The latest additions to adidas’ ’90s-inspired Yung series have arrived, and with them has appeared a very retro and questionable looking website. It is garish, busy and breaks every modern design rule.

And it’s brilliant.

It’s got all the key players of early sites that started to appear on the World Wide Web; animated GIFs, excessive colour cycling, godawful backgrounds and 3D renders, and WordArt fonts that seem to possess a life of their own.

adidas yung trainers

What adidas have successfully done is tap into the “back in my day…” mindset by creating a website that evokes an era when designers were trying to find their way in the new digital age of visual and graphic design. And a time when consumers were first being introduced to this online world.

And this sense of nostalgia can be very powerful.

You don’t have to look very hard to see the power of nostalgia in action. There are over 45 million posts tagged #ThrowbackThursday on Instagram and most recently the new craze has been Facebook’s “10 Year Challenge.” But what adidas have done is harness this power by seamlessly tying it to their product. The website may look clunky, outdated and unpolished. But the idea and execution behind it is anything but.


Nostalgia can also be a powerful design tool

Canva explains: “Used in design, nostalgia can appeal to the audience on a sentimental and emotive level. No matter how much technology advances and the modern world progresses, nostalgia—the notion of longing—remains an essential human condition.”

What adidas have done is exactly that. Tapping into a “sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former time or place… an era that is perceived as being a simpler time.”

Nostalgia marketing works best when you’re either:

  • Celebrating a milestone or the anniversary of your company
  • Resurrecting/adapting a product or a service that’s been discontinued
  • Drawing attention to a change within the organisation e.g. name or logo alteration
  • Trying to target a new demographic

And in this sense adidas really have hit the nail on the head. Adidas’ marketing mainly targets young consumers, 30 and under, but the brand is quite popular and is liked by consumers between 40 and 65 years old. And this is for them. The site is a callback to the budding internet of their youth, in the days before sleek design and usability testing reigned in the craziness and wackiness of web design.

The attention to detail is pretty fantastic; for starters they’ve used their old logo, hilarious “under construction” banners, a Dance Dance Revolution-style rhythm action game, and other various glitchy interactive features that engage the user with more than just the trainers.

adidas website

Adidas could have easily just launched these new products with a description highlighting that they were inspired by trainers from the ‘80s and ‘90s. But instead they’ve put us all in the way way back machine and immersed us in a world we thought was gone forever. And that’s pretty cool.