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Joining Nostalgia Dots Between Jawa, Prem’s, John Lewis and Bouygues Telecom

Anant Rangaswami, November 20, 2018

What’s the power of nostalgia? You were astonished by the song when Elton John first sang it 40 years ago, and you're astonished by it when you watch the John Lewis commercial.

The last week was extraordinary in the context of nostalgia hitting me in the face.
The first was the relaunch of the Jawa motorcycle – a brand that I grew up with, only to see it fade away and now, making a comeback in a new avatar.
Next was the trip to Pune for a family function. Conversations took us back in time, talking about the Pune-Mumbai annual race between the Deccan Queen and enthusiastic cyclists, my family visiting Prem’s, the delightful 50 year old restaurant on North Main Road, Koregaon Park, for lunch. I stayed at the Poona Club and some of the family at the Turf Club, two institutions that are incredible anachronisms. Memories, memories.

Then the John Lewis Christmas commercial hit me like a sledgehammer. You can see it here:

I was transported back to when I first heard Elton John’s magical voice and all those beautiful songs he made us hum. Memories, memories.
Almost at the same time that I saw the John Lewis commercial, I saw this one from Bouygues Telecom featuring Come and get your Love by Redbone.

Come and get your memories, the commercial says to me. I go, I get my memories.

Which brings me to the point of this post: The power of nostalgia. Prem’s, Jawa, John  Lewis and Bouygues Telecom, all, are either thriving on nostalgia or are gambling on nostalgia.
And that’s not a bad thing at all.
Members of my family (I wasn’t present) went to Prem’s because it has that wonderful, old-world feel to it – a feel notable by its absence in the new, cool places on could go to. Everything you order there tastes just the same as it did ten years ago; the waiters are probably the same waiters who served you ten years ago. The place was probably painted last about ten years ago as well. And you also get dollops (healthy, generous dollops) of memories. You get transported back to when you last went there and all the previous times you went there – and you’re left with a warm, fuzzy feeling. So what if the fries were cold?
The cornerstone of the Jawa relaunch strategy is nostalgia. Everybody (yes, EVERYBODY) over 40 years of age has a Jawa memory. It was the bike you had, or the bike you wanted to have. You were the driver of a Jawa – or the pillion rider on one. You remember the long drive to Mahabalipuram or Khandala or Kasauli or Digha with your batchmates or girlfriend or wife  — or by yourself.

Great memories – and the new Jawa can help you unlock memories that are long locked away. It helps, of course, that those with memories of Jawa bikes are all over 40 – and have the money to buy a Jawa, even if it’s their second bike, or third bike – or their first, in addition to their SUV or Beemer.
It’s the same thing that Your Song does for John Lewis. Your Song was MY song, for many people. You were astonished by the song when Elton John first sang it 40 years ago, and you’re astonished by it when you watch the John Lewis commercial. The beautiful device of a contemporary Elton John going slowly back to the young Elton John and his first piano as he sings this song takes the viewer back in his or her life as well. Some memories are more than just memories, as some gifts are more than just a gift. John Lewis reminds you of the simple truth.
And, as John Lewis dominated the limelight, the wonderful commercial for Bouygues Telecom caught my eye. It uses, through the song Come and Get Your Love, the same device that the Elton John song does. Nostalgia and memories. Unlike the John Lewis commercial, which goes back in time, the Bouygues commercial starts in the past and ends today, spanning decades since the song made the listener smile – and dance, however stupidly. And as the song takes you through various happy milestones in the lives of the protagonists, the viewer visits the happy milestones in his or her life. Memories are a wonderful thing.

What’s with nostalgia? What’s the power of nostalgia?
When you pay for the meal at Prem’s or buy a Jawa or shop at John Lewis or subscribe to the Bouygues service, there’s a percentage of the bill that you pay for the product or service. There’s another percentage that you pay for the memories.

And last night, a few friends and family were talking about cabbages and kings, which also included talking about advertising and creativity. And we spoke about the brilliant John Lewis commercial.
Which led us to the brilliant Waitrose take on the John Lewis commercial. You haven’t seen it? Here you go:

Waitrose’s effort rides on popular culture. John Lewis stunning ad became popular culture in just a few days, dominating conversations on social media – and, certainly, in pubs and bars and coffee shops.
Waitrose, with their hilarious take, butts into the John Lewis conversations – it’s almost a free ride.

And that takes me to another part of the conversation last night. Dates of events such as Christmas and Diwali and Holi are known, literally, years in advance, which is what allows masterpieces like the John Lewis ad, as the communication partners have all the time in the world to create brilliant communication.

Hey, wait a minute. The Waitrose ad was created AFTER the John Lewis ad, which meant it was created in a few days.

And this is the point that Chuck Porter made in his interview to MELT.

Great ideas don’t take time.

I’ve been completely preoccupied with a family commitment. That’s over. Now it’s back to regular routine, which means you can expect a post every day or two.