The Marketing Genius of Sea-Monkeys

Written by Bridgette Weller Brown
on 21 Jan 2021

We live in an era of sequels, reboots, and remarkable comebacks.

We seriously doubt whether the 1990’s actually really ever ended. Same goes for the ’80s, ’70s, ’60s, or ’50s. Movies, television shows, songs, (and more) are revolving around golden eras we just don’t want to forget about. It’s no wonder we’re all holding out for Stranger Things’ fourth season.

Nostalgia Marketing is afoot, people.

The world seems to have an irresistible taste for everything nostalgic. It’s about tapping into vintage moments and classic trends (Shoulder pads, Myspace accounts and flared jeans don’t quite count here) and re-emerging them into the modern world.

Nostalgia can transport you back to a ‘simpler’ time or elicit happy memories. Bliss.

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When the Caffeinate crew recently reflected on our favourite childhood toys, everyone unapologetically admitted a fond soft spot for Sea-Monkeys.

First advertised as a family-fun educational toy in the 1950s, you could find these mail-order pets inside the pages of comic books everywhere. These awesome little critters have even spent time in space and have a specially-designed aquarium built by NASA.


Sea-Monkeys have always been marketed in the same way, with kids convinced they are creating ALIVE underwater creatures that live in an underwater castle.


Unfortunately, we’re here to ruin your childhood. Presenting the heartbreaking truth – Sea-Monkeys are actually brine shrimp, able to survive as eggs for long periods until added to water. For seven decades, children have believed they were real. Genius marketing, if you ask us.

Marketing shrimp to children might not have worked as well, but portraying them as human-like monkeys certainly has.

Deceptive? Maybe. Clever? Certainly.

Screenshot of Sea-Monkeys homepage.

But how?

Check out the live screenshot from their current website.

The cartoon designs have barely changed over time. Red dotted antennas, check. Human smiles, check. Rounded faces and light-brown tones, check. The use of ‘Instant Pets’ in the tagline, you bet. Amping up those nostalgic vibes, you’ll notice they even use ‘The Original’ as part of the product name. The FAQ page includes a question asking “why not buy it, hah?” This builds trust with customers. It’s almost a shock to the system NOT to be sold something since we are so used to being sold to. Amazing.

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Over to you, people. We’re setting you a mini-challenge. How can you leverage your business, using the lessons learnt from Sea-Monkeys?

We want you to get innovative. Get creative. Get nostalgic. Take advantage of brand loyalty. Don’t hesitate to think ‘outside the aquarium.’ Meticulously plan your next move. If you’ve been around for a while, why not revert back to your original branding for a short period of time? Run a promotion around it. Why not pivot to offer something people haven’t seen in years?

If brine shrimp can do it, you can too.

Just add water and start growing your company.

(READ: Our 2021 Digital Marketing Predicted Trends)

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