By Chris Carter

Hey Marketers: Disco is back!

Talk about timing. The marketing geniuses behind arguably the most successful pop group of all time ABBA just dropped their first single in 40 years. “Don’t Shut Me Down” is unapologetically disco: it would have no problem tearing up 70s dance floors as it starts tearing up modern pop charts around the world. After a painful year and a half, the combination of hopeful messaging about beating the odds and danceable tune mixed in with an unrivalled dose of nostalgia is a master class in marketing. They also demonstrated a good bit of omni-channel savvy with tickets for their new futuristic avatar-driven London-based concert on sale now.

So why does this matter to marketers and fundraisers? (Just a note; charitable fundraisers frequently forget they are marketers too, so put down that camera phone as you take another pic of a big check and think about messaging.) Musical tastes have often been tied to the mood of the country and the economy. Let’s go back to the time when disco arose in the 70s.

As noted in the Washington Post, “Disco itself… was a product of the social and political upheavals of the 1960s. By the early 1970s, years of racial conflict, economic failure, Watergate and an admission to failure in Vietnam….” Sound familiar?

Understanding the mood and adjusting your messaging and branding accordingly are crucial. ABBA is hitting marketers over the head, saying “leverage nostalgia, give people hope”. Show how your organization is positioned to make a difference and get your donors to join you in making a difference as you provide hope.

Non-stop messaging talking about how bad things are without any positivity will doom your organization as donors change the channel. Or even worse, focusing too much on big donors, which would be akin to a bank ditching their advertising about great customer service, and how they can fulfill your retirement dreams, and instead having profiles of board members. Yep, you can see the money emptying from accounts as we speak.

I’ve already spoken about the advertising viral sensation from Extra gum “For When It’s Time,” with hope, comedy, authenticity and even nostalgia placing their product as the hero in the story. Arguably, this advertisement could well be the Coke’s “HillTop” (1971) commercial of our times.

In the end, what does all this mean? Position your brand, get your messaging in check, and break out your dancing shoes.