Is retro making a comeback? Ask any 20-year-old (like we asked our college interns) and the answer is yes. While not all our interns were excited about this, and many team members rolled their eyes at the thought of the ‘90s being considered ‘retro’, it’s still true. For better or for worse, ‘90s pop culture is making a return. Retro-themed clothing lines are crushing the game, ‘90s show reboots are crushing tv ratings, and don’t forget about overalls!

But this isn’t a dive into if or why ‘90s culture is coming back. Rather, this is a story about how ‘90s culture never really left and the lessons we still have to learn from ‘90s tv. Despite the digitization and heightened competition for refined strategy outlining the changes in marketing today, there are still stories that seem to have taken almost 3 decades to learn in modern marketing. So today, find a suitable ‘90s playlist, cozy up in your favorite ‘90s mom jeans, and let’s see how even the most recent changes in marketing owe their livelihood to ‘90s tv.


Look, weaving real-life lessons and packing them into 22-minute shows isn’t a sole defining feature of the ‘90s. But there’s no denying that ‘90s comedy sitcoms highlighted real issues. With shows like the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air tackling a myriad of issues concerning race, body image, sexism, and parental neglect (I’m sure we all remember that episode), Will Smith & cast reminded us that it is important to stand for something. Even if our goals in life is to simply fit into a town we’re unfamiliar with, there are always peripheral issues in life we need to deal with. In the very act of standing up for an issue, we learn more about who we are.

This is no less true today. While in the past brands and large businesses have been able to sit on the sidelines throughout discussions of social issues, 2019 and onwards proves that this is no longer true. Research from SproutSocial indicates that 66 percent of consumers want brands to speak up on social and political issues and advocate for good change. Not only that, respondents feel represented and find credibility in brands with aligned goals, publicly praising a company more often than criticizing one against their values. At Serendipit, we call this an extension of the long-running Cause Marketing trend, ‘BRANDSTANDING.’

What does this mean for modern marketing?

If you have a beauty and cosmetology business, you don’t need to weigh in on middle eastern politics. In fact, you’d probably confuse your base a lot and seem fake for doing so. Take Pepsi and the company’s now infamous ad with Kendall Jenner advocating for… well, nobody is entirely sure exactly what THAT was about. While Pepsi has certainly been put through the wringer for it already, there’s a lesson to learn. Just showing that you know that social issues exist doesn’t cut it. You need to promote an idea or support it in an honest and real way. Modern marketing is about telling the stories of your ever-diversifying consumer base and how you connect with the things that are important to them. Be real. Be open. Be honest. So as a beauty and cosmetology business, you might tell stories about how your brand is kinder to the earth throughout its lifecycle – from seeking out natural ingredients in distant lands to product testing that excludes animals and cruelty to low- or no-waste, fully biodegradable packaging.  


Yes, this point is eerily similar to the first point. But there is one key difference. While the first pivots on telling human stories in your marketing messages, this one is about including human stories at the core of your brand, both internally and externally.

Ellen DeGeneres stars as Ellen Morgan. This role led to a revelation and a revolution in just three simple words, “Yep, I’m gay.” Paving the way for inclusion of LGBTQIA+ storytelling in television, Ellen’s journey with coming out both in real life and on television helped shine a light on a group of underrepresented – and misrepresented –  people in media.

What does this mean for modern marketing?

A new twist on the longstanding push for diversity. Recognize that all humans aren’t the same. Not in appearance, race, ethnicity, sexuality, or ability. Recent changes in marketing indicate that people want stories to be told to them and for them. To be marketed and represented for is to be cared for and spoken for – so do it well, and do it naturally. Not only in the marketing messages but how you work internally. Stories come from everywhere, even from former employees that can and will dissect the diversity of a business if they feel as though the business lacks in diversity. But not only that, by collaborating with a team of marketers of diverse backgrounds, you help prevent future PR mishaps from occurring while strengthening the messaging of your business. While major changes in marketing calls for diverse messaging, having a diverse team behind the messages only strengthens the stories you tell.


“The One Where Monica Gets a Roommate”. “The One With The Sonogram at the End”. “The One With The Thumb”. These are just the first three episode titles of 236 episodes overall. They are easy to remember (because the title is literally just the content) and they are all the same in terms of format. It is this same consistency that makes the content memorable and easy to share. “Do you remember the one where…”, “OMG, I love the one where…”. It’s the symmetry in messaging that makes us remember the significance of the content with just the title and helps us navigate its expansive library of episodes.

What does this mean for modern marketing?

Consistency is key in ensuring your base won’t get confused with what you stand for and what you offer. This isn’t to say that the internal content shouldn’t be different (because it should be). BUT, you should stylize your content so audiences can follow it easily and not get lost. You should format everything so audiences can see a font and think of your brand. See a color scheme and think of you. See a logo and be reminded of your brand values.

Consistency in messaging is not a new concept. When it comes to recent changes in marketing, however, it takes on a new meaning. Digital marketing gives way to direct, two-way communication that hasn’t been afforded to businesses before. Knowing what your brand has to offer, being upbeat and positive in the face of nay-sayers is the significance of consistency. Know what you represent and don’t waver on it.


The marketing landscape is constantly shifting. Half of today’s digital marketing tools wouldn’t have been available today. Or at the very least, they wouldn’t have been as easily available. Still, as much as the marketing channels are evolving, the core of marketing remains the same. We are storytellers — following in tow of storytellers before us. So cheers to the 1990s! Here’s to hoping it’s even more prominent in the upcoming decade!

If you’re interested in learning more about storytelling and branding in your marketing messages, connect with us and see how we can rock your world!