Indian Essence

The campaigns that have won the hearts of generations.


Photos credit: https://www.amul.com/m/amul-hits

Priyanka Giri

Since time immemorial, Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) has greatly influenced our nation for generations.

Operation Flood: A Turning Point
Operation Flood or White Revolution, India’s largest dairy development programme, was the first step towards making Amul a nation-wide model aimed at benefiting the socio-economic condition of Indian farmers.

Shri Lal Bahadur Shastri, then Prime Minister of India, expressed the idea of the White Revolution to the then General Manager of Amul, Dr. Kurien. Also called “Father of White Revolution” or “Dudhwala of India”, he further dedicated his life to make this dream a reality by founding the National Dairy Development Board (NDDB) in 1965.

This helped India emerge as the largest milk-producing nation in the world. Since then, Amul has brought about a nation-wide revolution through their ethos and especially through their communication campaigns.

The yesteryears
Amul’s advertising campaigns were born in 1966 when the DaCunha ad agency in Mumbai was given the responsibility of the brand’s advertising by Dr Kurien.

Television and print media being expensive, Sylvester DaCunha, the founder-chairman of DaCunha Communications, decided to design ads suitable for outdoor hoardings. The famous Amul girl was the brainchild of Eustace Fernandes, the art director of DaCunha Communications, and the well-known catchphrase, “Utterly Butterly” was coined by Sylvester’s wife, Nisha DaCunha, creating one of the most famous and longest-running campaigns in India, loved to this day.

For thirty years, Jayant Rane has been hand-painting the Amul ads. Referring to previous compilations, the illustrator ensures that he maintains the trademark features of the Amul girl – wide eyes, chubby cheeks, blue hair, long eyelashes, and no nose – while adding other twists to her looks. Over the years, the campaigns have also developed a unique style of vocabulary, adding a touch of regional words and puns, widely loved by the people.

The first-ever Amul hoarding, featuring the Amul girl, was put up in Mumbai, in 1967.

A nation-wide revolution
Today, Amul’s advertisements have become sensational across India.

The regional touch to their hoardings ensures that the message is delivered to every stratum in the social hierarchy and proves the importance of language in the process of communication.

The ability to convey serious national issues through illustrations, as much as four-word captions flavoured with clever puns, prove that effective communication need not involve pages of information! It can be short and sweet, as long as the message is conveyed.

The news that the hoardings are based on – celebrating Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary, surgical strikes, the demise of actor Chadwick Boseman and legendary singer SP Balasubramaniam – resonates with the emotions of the entire nation. The incorporation of humour lightens the mood when serious issues are addressed, making the hoardings an all-time success.
“As India gets darker, the campaign is a ray of sunshine to make people laugh about what they are feeling dark about,” said Rahul DaCunha, creative director of DaCunha Communications.

Talking about the hoardings, Mr Rahul highlights the importance of public perception and how people react to certain news, saying, “I get the trend from newspapers. But I get the point of view from social media.”
“Choosing a subject for an ad is a science..(a topic) will be dead in three days”, says da-Cunha, proving that “old news is no news”.

Beyond the brand
“In the 1960s, we used to do one ad a month; in the ’70s and ’80s we did one every fortnight; in the ’90s that increased to one a week; now we put out up to five ads every week,” Talk about adapting to change as a brand!

Amul’s campaigns are some of the most successful campaigns running even today, never having lost a fanbase for more than fifty years.
They are a brand that has, over the years, managed to reflect the thoughts and feelings of Indians. They are, in a way, the voice of the nation.

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