Purpose: This paper aims to examine the role of life satisfaction in consumers’ reaction to nostalgic music in an advertisement in terms of attitude toward the brand and purchase intention. It suggests that life satisfaction forms the lens through which individuals interpret and reconstruct past emotional experiences evoked by nostalgia. It further investigates the role of product category involvement in the interplay between life satisfaction and nostalgic music. Design/methodology/approach: Two experiments were conducted. The first study featured a 2 (nostalgic vs non-nostalgic music) × 2 (high vs low involvement) between-subjects design and tested the research hypotheses with 208 consumers. The second study featured two involvement conditions (high vs low) and explored the underlying process behind the hypotheses. Linear regression was used to analyze the data in both studies. Findings: For the low involvement product category, nostalgic music was more effective than non-nostalgic music for consumers with high life satisfaction, whereas non-nostalgic music was more effective for consumers with low life satisfaction levels. For the high involvement product category, life satisfaction did not moderate consumers’ reaction to nostalgic music. Research limitations/implications: This research suggests that past experiences evoked through nostalgic music are not static but are subject to bias and interpretation depending on an individual’s current mindset. Hence, the eventual effect of nostalgia is determined by how past events are reconstrued based on the individual’s current state. Practical implications: This paper warns against the blind use of nostalgic appeals in advertising, points to the need to consider the audience’s state of mind, and suggests an opportunity to leverage life satisfaction influencers in designing effective advertising campaigns. Social implications: The findings have strong implications for public policymakers. The results are crucial as policymakers often use public service announcement (PSA) to change the attitude of the public toward some phenomena. Knowing the current state of life satisfaction in society, they can increase the efficiency of public service announcements by including a nostalgic song in them. Originality/value: To the best of the authors’ knowledge, this research is the first one in the marketing literature that looks at the efficiency of nostalgic songs in advertisements. The authors tested the conceptual framework by using two studies and offered novel implications to both marketers and scholars.
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