I grew up surrounded by the Berenstain Bears, TinTin, Curious George, and most remembered all—the world of Babar. I still remember Babar, king of the elephants, and his queen, Celeste; and the hours spent imagining the fantasy world created by Jean de Brunhoff.
I spent hours with these stories—imagining what it was like to live among a court of elephants, in an exotic land. And I transferred components of that fantasy world into my life—learning the lessons of the tales, and seeing different worlds outside the bubble of my own reality. It helped by to develop my creative muscle, through fantasy. Knowing how to create drives my ability to dream and build, and to stimulate change and innovate throughout my life, and in business.
The creators of all of these children’s stories have given the gift of creative thought to generations of children. The ability to fantasize—and imagine how others live, is a critical component to the nurturing of the creative mind—planting seeds that bare fruit that last a lifetime.
I’m reminded of the power of these children’s books as Babar celebrates his 80th anniversary and is being actively reintroduced to a new generation of children.
For those not familiar with Babar, it tells of a young elephant named Babar whose mother killed by a hunter, and who barely escapes the same fate. To flee from the hunter, Babar leaves the jungle, travels to a big city, and returns to bring the benefits of civilization to his fellow elephants. When the king of the elephants dies from eating a bad mushroom, Babar becomes King. Babar's world is one of stability and comfort, where distressing events can happen, but are eventually overcome by honesty and hard work. Generations of children have found it a welcoming place to dream and to learn.
“The Story of Babar,” appeared in France in 1931, with an English language version being introduced in 1933 by the author of the Winnie the Pooh children’s tales.
To reintroduce the brand to a new generation, Saks Fifth Avenue is stocking boutiques with Babar merchandise and featuring the character in store windows and holiday catalogs, and advertising and promotional campaigns will dot the world of children’s retail.
Stuart Elliott of The New York Times tells us that the Babar 80th anniversary campaign will have an advertising budget estimated at $100,000, and “is an example of the kind of nostalgic appeal known as comfort marketing, which is particularly popular in uncertain economic times. The campaign combines two aspects of comfort marketing: an anniversary commemoration and classic characters.”
Business savvy aside, keeping Babar alive is a powerful way to teach a new generation the power of fantasy—and to stimulate the creative mind. Just as we teach children fact and knowledge, uncovering the tools to create is just as valuable to leading a deep and powerful life. I know that Celeste, Babar, Arthur and Zephir are carried with me everyday.