Thursday, November 26, 2015

Verghese Kurien's 94th birthday: 15 amazing facts about the much-loved Amul Butter ads

Today is the 'Milkman of India' Verghese Kurien's 94th birth anniversary and Google has a doodle celebrating the day on its India home page. Kurien went on to lead the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd whose Amul is one of India's iconic brands.

Amul ads can also be seen as India's original Google doodles, with the Amul moppet taking a witty take on current events on hoardings and newspaper ads across the country. There have been over 4000 Amul Butter hoardings till date and there are an amazing number of facts about them. Here's our pick of 15:
1. Amul butter had been selling in the market for 10 years before the Amul moppet was conceived.
2. The 'Utterly' tagline was suggested by author Nisha daCunha, who is also the wife of Sylvester daCunha, the man behind the Amul butter advertising and chairman of daCunha Communications that has been handling the Amul Butter account for 49 years.
3. The Amul girl was born in 1966 (She still isn't 50 yet, but Amul celebrated her golden jubilee a couple of years ago.)
4. The moppet was created by Eustace Fernandes, who was then the art director at daCunha Communications. Fernandes passed away in March 2010.
5. The first of the ads featuring the girl in the polka dotted frock and a matching ribbon were not the huge hoardings that we are more acquainted with, but were put up on a few lamposts in Mumbai.
6. The first ever hoarding featuring the Amul girl had her saying a bedtime prayer (see the ad below). Interestingly, in her first major appearance the Amul girl wasn’t in her trademark polka-dotted frock.
First Amul horading
7. The Amul Management (including Dr Verghese Kurien) did not interfere in the making of the ads and daCunha Communications did not even need to get their approval before putting up the ads.
8. While Amul ads are not known to trigger a controversy, but there have been a few ads that many objected to. The most controversial Amul butter ad of all time was perhaps the one after incidents of UK authorities conducting virginity tests on Indian women arriving at London airport. The text said “Indian virgin needs no urgin’!” Following protests Amul came up with another billboard apologising for the ad (See below).
Most controversial Amul ad
9. Indian TV’s funny man Cyrus Broacha worked as a trainee copywriter with daCunha and of the many Amul hoardings that he helped conceive was the famous “Lara, kya mara!” following Brian Lara smashing Garry Sobers’ record for the highest score in Test cricket.
Amul Lara Kya Hai Mara ad
10. Jagmahon Dalmiya had tried to sue Amul for Rs 500 crore for a hoarding that said “Dalmiya mein kuch kala hai? Amul Maska khao, paisa nahin’ but had other thoughts when the courts required him to deposit 10 per cent of the amount.
11. The Ramalinga Raju (Satyam, Sharam, Scandalam) ad following the Satyam scam drew the ire of the Satyam board and they sent a letter demanding an apology else Satyam employees would quit consuming Amul products in protest.
Amul Satyam Sharam Scandalam ad
12. In April 1995 the Election Commission got an Amul Butter hoarding painted black. The ad showed Congressman in a tug-of-war with the hand symbol and the Commission interpreted it as a political advertisement.
13. Pia Benegal, director Shyam Benegal’s daughter had as a kindergarten student lent her voice for the ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ ad jingle.
14. The present Amul Butter cartoons are drawn by Jayant Rane.
15. A number of Amul ads have been based on other much-discussed ads. Some samples:
Amul ads based on ads

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