ONE fine summer morning in 1967, something strange and unusual attracted the attention of the early morning walkers. Slowly and slowly the crowd grew, people wanted to satisfy their curiosity. No signs of an accident were to be seen, so nothing worse could be visualised. To the utter surprise of the crowd a sexy, chubby-cheeked, village belle, clothed in a tantalizing polka-dotted choli, had climbed a hoarding in the ever-moving city of Mumbai. It was the first-ever Amul hoarding that had brought the life of Mumbai to a standstill. It was love at first sight, recall the Mumbaikars.
My father often tells us that buying a copy of India Today, an English monthly and Amul butter was one of his favourite shopping habits, because both featured interesting witty statements made by the round-eyed Amul girl (moppet), often winking at you. She may be the coy, shy, Husain favourite Madhuri, colourful, Rangeela, Urmila or simply as herself, dressed in her little polka- dotted dress with a red and white bow, holding out her packet of butter. "It not only made you smile but also, at times made one aware of the important national issues", he remarks.
nearly all young and old at home, this utterly butterly, 34 years
young butter girl is getting ready to enter the Guinness Book of World
Records, for being the protagonist of the longest running campaign
In advertising, image building for a corporate client is a tough job and to change the existing is the toughest. Sylvester knew this very well. His knowledge and experience had taught him that that Indians did not like stupid advertisements for food. Yet he decided for a new image and took up the challenge. As a result, Sylvester daCunha gave birth to a girl whose charm evoked an overwhelingly positive response from the public and endured fickle public opinion.
Though the round-eyed, chubby-cheeked, utterly butterly girl was born as a rival to the Polson butter girl. Eustace Fernandez, the then Art Director and Sylvester felt the need of a girl who could easily make her way not only into everyone’s homes but also into their hearts. The magic worked. A sexy, village belle, clothed in a choli was a perfect Amul moppet.
Sylvester daCunha’s magic had worked very soon after the hoarding came up, all the best commercially exploitable sites were splashed with the new moppet on a horse. The punch line was, "Throughbread, utterly butterly delicious Amul". It was everywhere on lamp kiosks, bus shelters, hoardings, everywhere one could see. The idea had clicked and the boring butter had acquired a new image, a new place in everyone’s hearts. The campaign was a success and the response phenomenal, recalls Rahul daCunha. Initially, for a year the girl made normal, witty statements. In 1967, the campaign kicked off, for more mileage, by changing to a more topical interest.
The Hare Rama, Hare Krishna Movement came to Bombay (Mumbai) in 1969. Sylvester, Mohammad Khan and Usha Bandarkar, the then creative team at the daCunha instantly came up with, Hurry Amul, hurry hurry— The city reacted to this ad with a fervour that was as equal as devout as Iskon fever, recall daCunhas. Since then the "taste of India" began playing the role of a social observer. The reply to the Naxalite Movement in Calcutta was, Cholbe na cholbe na (won’t do won’t do). The girl’s witty reply to the Indian Airlines strike was: "Indian Airlines won’t fly without Amul. " We had the option of being sweet and playing it safe, or making an impact. A fine balance had to be struck. We have a campaign that is strong enough to make a statement. I didn’t want the hoarding to be pleasant or tame. They have to say something," recalls Rahul daCunha.
There were also a couple of advertisements that were not taken pleasantly by the public. When the Amul girl was shown wearing the Gandhi cap. The concerned authorities came down heavily, feeling that the Gandhi cap was a symbol of Independence; they couldn’t have anyone not taking that seriously. So despite their reluctance, the hoardings were wiped clean. The Indian Airlines one really angered the authorities. They threatened to stop supplying Amul butter on the plane, if the ads were not taken down. So ultimately Amul discontinued the ad. Then there was an ad during the Ganpati Festival, which said, ‘Ganpati Bappa More Ghya’ (Ganpati Bappa take more). That hurt the religious sentiments of the Shiv Sena people and they said that if Amul didn’t do something about removing the ad they would come and destroy the office. So the ad had to be removed.
There were other instances too. ‘Heroine addiction’, Amul’s little joke on M.F. Husain, made the artist call the advertising agency and request them for a blowup of the ad. " He said that he had seen the hoarding while passing through a small district in UP. He had asked his assistant to take a photograph of himself with the ad because he had found it so funny," says Rahul daCunha.From 1966 to till date, the campaign has travelled a long way. The decision to adopt a new image has given the most to Amul and the authorities feel that there is still more to come. On archiving the interesting and witty statements made by the girl, one feels that the best statements were made in the 80s. ‘Pati patni aur wah!’ ‘ Sunil’s taste runs in doubles’ or ‘It continues it’s Rajya in every Sabha’ were some of the wittiest statements made. The best thing about the ads is that they are simple and still the best. They are like everyday fun that has nothing to do with our religion, country or any thing else. The humour helps to bring a smile. The real charm lies in the witty punchlines made by the round-eyed, chubby-cheeked, sexy, village belle offering her favourite butter, that is 34 years young.
Some interesting campaigns