By Ankit Saproo
The story of Amul campaign runs alongside the story of India. For more than 50 years, the commercials spread across the country have painted the story of India’s journey in a way no other campaign has done. When it was launched in 1966, it steamrolled its competitors, mainly Polson, a popular brand that dominated the market. In Amul’s India, a book which charts the history of the brand, ad man Alyque Padamsee recounts: “Amul became a major brand in Bombay and the Polson family quietly faded away!”
Amul’s billboard campaigns have recounted the illustrious and not-so illustrious history of post-Independence India. Witty political invectives and tongue-n-cheek social commentaries have set the branding exercise of the milk major apart. The Amul mascot, a chubby girl wearing a polka-dotted dress, has been the same in every campaign since she came on to the stage in 1966.
The concept of the Amul girl, sporting the polka-dotted frock and ribbon, was the brainchild of Eustace Fernandes. The Amul girl has entered the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest running campaign in the world.
Advertising and Sales Promotion (ASP) bagged the Amul account in 1966. Amul butter had already been selling in the market for almost 10 years before the moppet campaign was launched. The team of Sylvester da Cunha, Eustace Fernandes, Usha Katrak and Marie Pinto worked on the Amul account. Amul’s old slogan, “Purely the Best”, was first recast by Nisha DaCunha, wife of Sylvester DaCunha, as “Utterly Amul” before Sylvester added the “Butterly” spread to it and thus was born “Utterly Butterly Delicious Amul!”
In Amul’s India, the history of the brand is recounted through its humorous takes on events that have caught the country’s imagination. For well over five decades, the brand campaign has not only survived but flourished by keeping up with the times.
The first hoarding showed the Amul girl praying, wearing a nightgown. The advertisement read: “Give us this day our daily bread: with Amul Butter.” In one of the recent advertisements, Amul pulls a punch on the south Indian political heavyweight Karunanidhi family with the one liner “No Karuna (pity) for Him?” Another such
advertisement “Breaking Bharti Laws?” is critical of Delhi’s law minister and India’s Aam Aadmi Party leader Somnath Bharti’s night raid on a Delhi neighbourhood where women from Africa live. When the father of India’s White Revolution (read Milk Revolution), Verghese Kurien, passed away in 2012, the Amul girl wept for the first time. The advertisement read: “Thank You for giving us Hausla (confidence), Pragati (progress) & Anand (joy)… Dr V Kurien 1912-2012.” This was how the Amul girl paid homage to the founder of the Amul movement.
The longest running campaign also ran into many controversies and emerged out of them with ease. One of the recent controversial ads on erstwhile IT major Satyam’s involvement in a scam had the Amul girl poking fun at the Satyam founder with the words: “Satyam, Sharam, Scandalam!” This triggered a controversy with the Satyam board expressing its displeasure about the commercial.
Despite changing times and the advent of technology, the simple Amul campaign still spreads smoothly on many billboards and continues to capture the imagination of a new India through frequent shares on social media websites.
At a time when brands are trying to reinvent themselves, Amul has stuck to its age-old formula of wit and sarcasm. And it seems to work just fine.