Nostalgia Marketing & What We Can Learn From John Lewis Ads

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Learn more about nostalgia marketing, why it’s so powerful, and how brands are using it in their holiday marketing videos.

You’ve probably noticed an influx of seasonal television advertising campaigns by retail brands in the build-up to Christmas. These spots tend to attract widespread media coverage and acclaim upon their release.

Just look at department store brand John Lewis & Partners, which launched their first Christmas advert back in 2007.

Their nostalgic ads have become something of an annual tradition in the U.K., and one of the signals that the countdown to Christmas has begun.

In 2011, John Lewis uploaded their Christmas advert Denmark Phone Number to YouTube for the first time. Since then, the British department store chain and its London-based agency, Adam & Eve/DDB, have followed suit each and every year.

And judging by the quality of ads other brands in the U.K. have been releasing this past decade, they may have learned some important lessons from those John Lewis spots.

In this column, we’ll take a look at how these brands are effectively harnessing the power of nostalgia marketing and what you can learn from them to make it a part of your own marketing strategy.

What Is Nostalgia Marketing?

Nostalgia marketing is the strategy of evoking a sentimental longing or wistful affection for the past. In order to build brands for the future.

It’s the tactic of associating your company with a period or place. That triggers happy personal associations for your ideal customer, for the purpose of marketing goods and products in the present.

Why Nostalgia Marketing Works So Well

Nostalgia marketing typically works well because the psychological response triggered by watching a deeply nostalgic video tends to be intense, since it is influenced by the viewer’s own positive emotions and memories.

Nostalgic content also makes advertising campaigns appear more down-to-earth and authentic to the audience.

However, John Lewis may (or may not) not have learned what works (and what doesn’t). As the data below from Tubular Labs shows, the John Lewis Christmas ads uploaded to YouTube got more views and engagements several years ago than they’ve received more recently.

And that was a troublesome trend even before the pandemic turned last Christmas into a season that most high street shops would rather forget!

Google Trends Data For The Christmas Advert This Year

You can use Google Trends to learn some surprising lessons about interest in the Christmas advert.

Screenshot from Google Trends, December 2021

And if you narrow the timeframe on Google Trends to just the last 30 days. You can scroll down and see that the top related queries for the search term include:

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