Producers capitalise on Czech "brand nostalgia"

The Czech Republic seems to have been hit by a wave of brand nostalgia. If you owned a car before 1989, it was most probably a Skoda, you wore Botas shoes, a Prim watch, cooked your dinner in a Remoska portable oven, chewed on Pedro chewing gum and did your washing with the so-called Stag soap. Skoda is one of only a few traditional trademarks that have successfully survived the influx of western brands and products after the fall of communism. Many other household names succumbed to the tough competition, but in recent years old brands have been re-emerging as producers realise they can capitalise on people's nostalgia after they have become saturated with international brands.

In recent years, a number of traditional Czech companies have reported increased domestic sales and exports, for example the tractor maker Zetor. The chemicals producer Setuza has successfully re-launched production of its brown washing soap with a picture of a stag on it - a product with a tradition of some 150 years in this country. Another success story is the spectacular rebirth of a caffeinated soft drink Kofola, which was originally developed in the 1960s as an alternative to unavailable western products. Lawyer Eugen Zathurecky is a trademark specialist.

"If I am to introduce the drink distributed under the trademark Kofola, I would like to stress that it is a beverage that has been continually produced for more than 30 years, since the mid-1960s in the former Czechoslovakia. This beverage has been maintaining its popularity and quality all the time and now is able to be a partner [to other caffeinated drinks] on the market very successfully."

Kofola is now the third largest soft drink producer in the Czech Republic. It has recently expanded into neighbouring Poland and keeps on growing. The Tatra carmaker has been increasing production in the last couple of years, too, also thanks to orders from the Czech military. Next month, the legendary small motorcycle Jawa Pionyr will be re-introduced to the Czech market. This "retro brand" marketing strategy is proving very successful for the companies and consumers find it easy to identify with the brands that are considered as family silver even though many are now owned by international companies. And some of the brands are doing so well that you can find their pirated copies both in the Czech Republic and abroad.