This story is about most loved brand Amul-The Taste of India and their ever consistent advertising campaign featuring The Amul poppet(cute,little,naughty girl in her polka dots more often than not relishing Amul butter and other products).Their chief architect Dr Verghese Kurien was exemplary in bringing in the White Revolution, the largest dairy development programme in the world named as Operation Flood.
White Revolution was the offshoot of India’s Freedom movement, to empower the farmers by freeing them from the clutches of self serving middle men by eliminating them and in turn setting up a milk corporation. A farmer would bring milk cans on a daily basis to his nearest collection centre in his village and would be paid cash instantly based on quality and fat content in the weighed milk. The interesting thing here is, this milk is largely purchased by women thus empowering them economically and socially.
Anand,once a serene and quiet village is today a symbol of modern nationalism. It is the headquarters of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd(GCMMF) and brand Amul. In the aftermath of 1962 Indo-China war, it was very difficult time for India. Agriculture was the top priority for our honorable Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri. He even went to coin a slogan- Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan. One hugely successful programme was milk co-operative movement in Gujarat under the leadership of Mr. Kurien. In 1964, our PM, wished to spend one night at a farm in Anand without any presence of customary security.He along with Kurien sneaked out into a farmers place to understand and empathize about their current situation, their problems, concerns and experiences with the Co-operative movement. After a good connect, PM requested Mr Kurien to replicate this on a national level paving the way for National Dairy Development Board headquartered at Anand.
It was vital for Amul-the Brand to market its products more effectively to capture the imagination of all its prospective customers. They felt services of a professional ad agency were outright necessary. So they hired an advertising agency to do their marketing and more importantly they gave them free hand and didn’t interfere whatsoever. That was the wisest decision ever taken in what could be a unbeaten partnership(a partnership, one cannot emulate easily) by which Amul grew leaps and bounds.
The positioning statement for their Amul butter was “processed from purest milk under the most hygienic conditions by a dairy co-operative from Gujarat“. And that’s when, to further refine the communication-Sylvester DaCunha who was driving the advertising campaign came up with this winning slogan “Utterly Butterly Delicious” when casually discussing with his wife. Eustace Fernandes, the art director, visualized and sketched a charming little poppet in a polka dots frock with matching ribbon in her ponytail. She was licking her lips to say “Utterly Butterly Delicious“. She was cute, smart, naughty, innocent,cheeky without any malice. This was an outright winner and rest is history. Over 50 years of advertising with the same character expressing varied emotions with diverse messaging theme is legendary. It only brings back memories of The Common Man cartoon created by the master illustrator R K Laxman.
It was decided that the agency would go with outdoor campaigns and hoarding at prime locations of Bombay was the best bet. When the first hoarding with the Amul poppet was put up, it was an instant success. A housewife, was drying her clothes in her balcony when she saw few people gathering on the main road. As crowd grew, she rushed to see, whether there was any accident only to find her kid pointing her to the hoarding with a cute little kid advertising for Amul. Such was the power of their communication and it’s underlying impact on psyche of their customer.
After few stints, the agency planned to go topical with their campaigning picking up topics of national interest. However topical ads, posed a challenge. One had to select a topic, create a rough sketch, present it to client, tweak it to incorporate client’s suggestions and then after final approval,distribute it to hoarding contractors. This would easily take a week by which the topic in hand would loose its relevance and hence the connect.
This was when Dr Kurien did the unthinkable. He gave a complete free hand to the agency to create their own ads without any client interference. The client just like common man on the street had the first look only when it was displayed in a hoarding in select prime locations of Bombay.
This was a great gesture and led to an unassailable partnership, the campaign,the wittiness of the ad, gave us enough reasons to chuckle about over the years. However, it had its own share of controversy when some of the ads didn’t go well with some institutions and was dealt in appropriately when the need arose.
There are no favorites, there cannot be, as one cannot pick and choose few of the topicals which are great. They have been very successful in capturing collective Indian consciousness. Anyone from an 8 year old kid to a 80 year old octogenarian,can relate to their ads and relish them.
So what ticks for Amul in terms of messaging? Is it just about playing with the words and having a popular opinion? In Product Marketing terms, their messaging has a pattern of grabbing the eyeballs of the onlooker by which they reinforce their offerings, why they are best in the business? Why Amul butter is the best butter one can have, why they are ahead of the competition etc. Also, there is some sort of vanity and bragging rights, that using Amul sounds cool. They adopt a messaging which energizes and inspires and in turn persuades their target persona to try their products.
I know some of my friends who have created an album of sorts of their topicals. Personally, this book- Amul’s India has been one of the good reads to understand the story behind these topicals and different point of views from celebrities from all walks of life who have their own Amul story to share. It’s Utterly Butterly Delicious 🙂 Hope you enjoyed it as much I had putting up this post.
Picture credits and References: Amul’s India- Based on 50 Years of Advertising by DaCunha Communications