Molten gold, Rs 28: The ad that got Calcutta curious

The Indian lust for gold can never be quenched. Gold prices had recently crossed Rs 29,000 for 10 grams. Even at Rs 3,175 back in 1988 gold topped the desire list (maybe along with imported Japanese electronics). An innovative advertiser in Calcutta added curiosity to the desire to come up with an appealing campaign.

Molten Gold Rs 28 - Arti cooking oil ad

For weeks the posters had been staring people intriguingly in the face. Plain single-colour sheetts of paper with two inscriptions: golato shona (melted gold) on top, and atash taka (twenty-eight rupees) below it. All over the city, thse two lines elicted blank faces and endless questions about what they meant. They were obviously ad, but for what? At last the mystery has been solved. They were ads all right, but for an unlikely product Arti Cooking Oil, which its makes claim, is like liquid gold in quality and costs Rs 28 a kg.

The golano shona atash taka (গলানো সোনা ২৮ টাকা) ad and the information around it have been sourced from Calcutta Skyline. Got my hands on a few copies of the magazine from the late 1980s via Arunava Sinha.

A little calculation: Over the last 23 years cooking oil prices have increased about three to five times while gold prices have jumped over nine times.