The Amul girl isn’t 50, yet: Trivia, an awesome image and a movie

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Utterly, butterly, ignoramus!

Amul moppetI am a sucker for anniversaries. They give an opportunity to celebrate something that you want to and the occasion guarantees that readers notice (and also appreciate) your celebration.

Was a bit surprised to find that the Indian media was marking the 50th anniversary of the Amul moppet, whereas her golden jubilee year is a good four years away. Many of the stories that appeared are self-contradictory. While the headlines announced that she was 50, the text mentioned a year that doesn’t total up to 50 in 2012. Given that the Amul mascot is female, we ought to be extra careful in the matters of age.

The reason behind this recent interest is because of a book (that I bought almost a month ago) – that some of the reports erroneously stated was a coffee table book.

Given the popularity of the Amul girl, we wanted the book to be accessible to a larger audience and decided to do an affordable paperback instead of a coffee-table tome.

The book in question is Amul’s India it was the subtitle that caused the age fudging – ‘Based on 50 years of Amul advertising by daCunha Communications’.

This post is a five in one – a myth buster (read above), a trivia list (begins immediately after this paragraph), a book review, a 50-megapixel mosaic and an 1 hour and 36 minutes long ad film. Ek ke saath chaar free! Free! Free! Free! Free!

That I am also a sucker for lists. Here is a little list of interesting facts about the Amul advertising campaign that I think you should know (just in case you don’t already). A little review of the book follows the list.

  1. The Amul brand was actually registered eight years before the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation, which now markets the brand, was established.
  2. Amul butter had been selling in the market for 10 years before the Amul moppet was conceived.
  3. 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 46 years.
  4. The Amul girl was born in 1966 (that makes her 46 and not 50).
  5. The moppet was created by Eustace Fernandes, who was then the art director at daCunha Communications. Fernandes passed away in March 2010.
  6. 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.
  7. 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.
  8. The first Amul hoarding ever (1966)

  9. Before the ‘Utterly, butterly, delicious’ tagline, Amul was positioned as ‘processed from the purest milk under the most hygienic conditions by a diary co-operative in Gujarat’.
  10. 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.
  11. 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)
  12. Most controversial Amul butter ad ever (Virginity tests)

  13. There have been over 4000 Amul butter hoarding till date.
  14. 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.
  15. Jagmahon Dalmiya had tried to sue Amul for Rs 500 crores 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. 915
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. Pia Benegal, Shyam Benegal’s daughter had as a kindergarten student lent her voice for the ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ ad jingle.
  19. The present Amul Butter cartoons are drawn by Jayant Rane.
  20. There are 90 Amul Hoarding locations across India.
  21. Amul Butter ads are also printed in 22 newspapers.
  22. 120 different Amul Butter hoardings were produced in 2011.
  23. A number of Amul ads have been based on other much-discussed ads. Some samples:
  24. Amul ads on ads

Much of the above Amul advertising trivia is from Amul’s India: Based on 50 years of Amul advertising by daCunha Communications (Rs 299). The book’s available for Rs 179 at HomeShop18, Rs 209 on FlipKart and Rs 237 on Indiatimes Shopping.

The best part of the book is of course the ads and the piece by Sylvester daCunha. The problem with so many people writing, speaking on the same theme is that there tends to be repetitions and there are many in the book. What is surprising though is that of the 17 contributors no two listed the same ad as their favourite. Maybe it is because of the variety or is it on purpose?

Alpana Parida’s (President, DY Works) verbosity was actually unnecessary and they should’ve put in eight pages of more ads instead.

The big let down was the captions accompanying the ads. Amul ads are topicals and usually refer to specific incidents. The caption writer seemed to be clueless for most of the time and the generalisation killed the pun for readers. For example the Suresh Kalmadi ad, has to do more to do with reports of Kalmadi suffering from memory loss than with what the caption read – “Suresh Kalmadi had to spend time in jail for his role in the Commonwealth Games scandal.”

I had personally expected the book to throw more light on the anecdotes of the people involved in creating the ads rather than what celebrities think about them. I wished they added more ads in there. Nevertheless, this book is a recommended buy.

46 years of Amul advertising, 1,432 ads, one 50 million pixel mosaic image (also a movie)!

The book mentions that there have been over 4,000 Amul ads and I have got hold of 1,432 of them (a couple more have been added while I was getting this post ready and haven’t included them). Such a huge cache automatically lends itself to some interesting usage. And here’s what I did with them.

The image below is a mosaic of the Amul moppet and is made up of all the 1,432 individual Amul ads. Some of you might want to do a huge print of this to put up on an empty wall. This 50 megapixel image (9426 x 5303 pixels at 300 dpi) weighs 28.4 MB and can be downloaded from here [ZIP 28.4 MB]. Zoom in (hover over the image, use the controls on the bottom right or simply click).

And as promised there’s a movie too. In a feature length (1 hour 35 minutes and 40 second) glory made up of all the 1,432 images present in the mosaic image above.

I don’t know if these qualify as categories but the mosaic can set the world record for the largest ad made up of individual ads and the video could hold the title for the longest video advertisement. This is Cutting the Chai’s little tribute to this loveable series that also happens longest running outdoor campaign.

Don’t have a Dropbox account? Get yours for free here.


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