As consumers may have noticed, many companies (especially ones selling food items) have trended toward the angle of "nostalgia" recently, bringing back some familiar mascots that had previously been put to rest. Nostalgia is defined as a longing for a past, typically associated with a mixture of happiness and sentimentality.

Experts who have weighed in on the nostalgia-based marketing trend suggest that campaigns focused on the emotional state can be "reassuring" amid a pandemic that has many consumers yearning for an era before the times of health and safety concerns, social distancing, and economic uncertainty.

"It's grounded in a sense of collective loss that we're all feeling for having suddenly lost so many of the things that we took for granted," said psychology professor Krystine Batcho, who's been researching nostalgia since the mid-90s. "These conditions make it even more likely that people would gravitate toward this kind of marketing."

As one example of the trend in action, after a six-year break from the mascot, Chips Ahoy (MDLZ  ) brought back "Chip" (an anthropomorphized cookie) to promote a new cookie flavor that combines Hershey's (HSY  ) and Reese's. The intent behind this marketing move seems to relate to the idea of promoting a unifying message of happiness, connection, and relief from anxiety. In a press release, Chip was characterized as a "loveable optimist," a mood that undoubtedly could uplift and inspire consumers as they trudge through the pandemic.

"Food is a real catalyst for that emotion of remembering something from the past," said Tara Apisa, senior marketing director of Mondelez International, which is the parent company of Chips Ahoy. "It was about being able to tap into that emotion of nostalgia through the use of this cookie that really represented the product and the craveability of the product."

In addition to Chips Ahoy, AT&T (T  ) also brought nostalgia into their recent marketing campaigning. With the very conscious motivation to tap into the public's sense of nostalgia, the telecommunications giant brought back their 2013-2017 brand spokesperson Lily during the pandemic.

"It was a logical thing for us to do both from the people and business point-of-view," said Marc Burns, vice president of advertising and social media. "On the people side, everyone is craving the familiar and things that give us comfort, and from the business point of view, we had a lot of brand equity in the character because of the investment we've made over four years - so [Lily's] a memory asset."

Other brands participating in the nostalgia trend include Burger King (QSR  ) and Budweiser (BUD  ). For example, for the first time in years, Burger King ran a Video Music Awards (VMA) campaign featuring its mascot The King along with the rapper Lil Yachty. Meanwhile, Budweiser encouraged its fans to stay connected to others during lockdown in an adaptation of its 1999 "Whassup" advertisement.