Nostalgic marketing

Lokesh Kannan
6 min readJun 12, 2019

I know that most men would feel good just looking at the above picture while much older men would be lost inside their mind looking at the below picture thinking about Dimple Kapadia in swimwear.

Yamaha Rajdoot was first seen used in the popular 70s flick “Bobby” starring Rishi Kapoor and Dimple Kapadia. It became widely popular as the Bobby bike soon enough. Yamaha RX 100 is every millennial’s favourite. It is much coveted by men and I personally know a lot of them who’d happily give away their year’s worth of hard earned money to get a dilapidated RX 100 put back to its pristine glory. Watching these RX 100 aficionados talk to a mechanic will remind you of that popular sentence from any Tamil movie “Doctor, evalo selavanaalum paravala, enoda thambiya epdiyavathu kaapathidunga ” (Doctor, no matter how much it costs, please save my dying brother)

Recently Jawa Motorcycles relaunched its yesteryear hit Jawa SD, which was the most popular bike of the 60s and 70s. The Vespa is yet another icon of the 40s and 50s that is gaining popularity, its like the Jawa SD of the Venusian world. These bikes simply never seem to go out of style and demand (We will get back to this later)

Jumping to Ilayaraja.

Every kid that grew up in the 90s (Tamil Nadu), know the popular Ilayaraja songs of 70s and 80s even though they were born a decade or two later, where the maestro was not even giving his best music and ARR was emulating him. How is this possible? these songs are sub consciously ingrained in our minds somehow. I remember the song “Senthalam poovil” by Jesudas, which was my mother’s favourite and it almost constantly played from our radio. My father was a big fan of “Kanney Kalaimaney” from the movie “Moondram pirai” and was singing it mindlessly while at home or putting my baby sister to sleep. As a kid, I hated these songs because my parents would snatch the TV remote from me to tune into channels that played these songs (Ilayaraja music) during weekends. My parents hardly listen to music these days but whenever I come across any of these songs being played somewhere, it takes me to the good old days, back to that home without running water and compound walls. We had little money and my mother had a tab at the local “annachi” store. Chennai back then was simple and peaceful with green busses. We have never heard about Tsunami or Ozone layer depletion before and petrol was still 18 rupees. We had telephone, TV and my father had a Honda CD 100 bike, those were expensive things at home and that made us the most sophisticated household in the entire street. I am not sure if those were good days but they were surely the happy ones. I have some of these Ilayaraja songs downloaded and hearing them helps me to reminisce in the good memories from the past even today.

The emotional journey :

Vespa or RX100 or Shakthimaan or Ilayaraja. These things seem to have a special place in our heart. Some things remind us about a period of our life and suddenly creates a strong emotional bonding. We call it nostalgia in common terms. Here is a visual representation of how I think nostalgia works.

Consider that someone is born and raised in the year 1970 and the red circle represents an object/ film/ song/bike that was directly or indirectly involved in this person’s life at that point of time. Majority of the population find that their happiness levels go down (represented by a fading green arrow) as they grow up due to increasing commitments, work pressure, relationship failures, health issues, children and social pressure. This person was a kid in 1970 and was happy. As the person grows up, the object is replaced or forgotten (faded red circle) in the memory lane gradually due to the effect of time or the object going out of fashion. 30 years after, this person suddenly comes in contact with this object somewhere and guess what? It will take him back to the time of his life where it belongs. Naturally that’s the best period of this person’s life because that’s when he was the most happiest. Happy memories are always strong and they never fade away.

Vintage to Retro

There is an increasing trend in the things of the past being reintroduced and received with much zeal among masses. This is the process where something vintage becomes retro because of the mass happiness index associated with that product in retrospective.

Bottles and Eye Glasses :

I suppose most of us would have gotten a takeaway from the “Tempteys” the popular milkshake shop. Notice that the takeaway bottles are very retro. I took one home and my mom instantly recognised these bottles to be popular when she was young. She recounted that shops in Spencers plaza sold pasteurised milk in similar bottles back then.

Another example is female reading glasses. Lately, lot of women go for retro styled glasses. (They are vintage but on their way to becoming retro once they reach their tipping point)

Check this website :

Advertising :

Came across some really interesting concept posters made in vintage (retro?) styled art for modern day objects and they are brilliant. This could become an upcoming trend in advertising for modern day objects to engage with older audience who can identify a particular style with a specific period of their lives.

Nostalgic marketing :

Companies today are tapping into our memory lane to trigger this feeling of nostalgia to sell products. Its not uncommon to see some old elements from the past reintroduced and becoming an instant hit these days. The Jawa SD and Vespa are classic examples of companies reinventing themselves by taking advantage of nostalgia . We can expect to see something more in time come. As for the RX 100 and Rajdoot, there is much debate in the Yamaha world to reintroduce them someday soon.