Tradition is in overdrive this holiday season, though the abundance of old-timey buffalo plaid prints in Gap stores has me wondering when log-cabin living became so chic. Didn't the creative director watch theLittle House on the Prairie episode where the big score was a set of "real" glass windows?

It's true that, in uncertain times, marketers often look to the past for inspiration. And there's evidence that, for now at least, consumers are likely to be receptive. A Harris Interactive poll found holiday shoppers focusing on a more traditional Christmas with family and friends. By tying into people's positive memories of more traditional times, brands are hoping to garner a competitive advantage.

But it's important to do it right. There has to be substance behind the initiative. A good example is the new partnership between Coca-Cola and Paramount for It's a Wonderful Life-related memorabilia slated for 2010 (In the classic Christmas film, a young George Bailey works in a pharmacy with a Coca-Cola soda fountain). The collection will be "another connection point" for the brand during the holidays, says Kelli Sogar, global business development manager for Coca-Cola, who spoke toBrandWeek about the partnership. "We both have iconic imagery that evokes nostalgic memories during the holidays," she said.

I'm thinking the idea will win misty-eyed consumers over next year. By then, thebuffalo plaid busthe Gap dispatched this month for a nationwide tour with a "cheer squad" will be just a memory...and log cabin chic (by the Gap, at least) an unlikely candidate for revival.