Nestle India 100 years in India video
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Maggi noodles missing from Nestle’s 100 years in India video; Maggi explains why

(Post updated to include response from Maggi India)

Nestlé is gradually attempting to make amends after the big Maggi noodles controversy that hit both its brand image and stock prices hard.

As part of its brand revival strategy Nestlé India has released a minute-and-a-half long video that essentially wants to deliver the message that Nestle has been an unwavering companion in India’s journey this far.

But missing from the video is Maggi instant noodles, perhaps the company’s best known brand in India. Even in the product spread at the end of the video, there’s no Maggi noodles (there are other Maggi products, but not the instant noodles that is synonymous with the brand). This is quite surprising, especially because the company has been steadfast in its stance that there’s nothing wrong with Maggi noodles.

Nestle India 100 years in India video

For many Maggi fans, who also have stood by their favourite noodles even in the face of regulatory restrictions, this sidelining of Maggi noodles by Nestlé could be an act of betrayal.

Nestle might be wanting to play it safe, but if they have been standing up for something, they shouldn’t be making attempts to hide that.

Even if we give the company a benefit of doubt. It could have been Maggi noodles that a mother is seen lovingly feeding her teenage daughter 68 seconds into the video. But we can’t clearly see what it is. Also a spoon used, instead of a fork – the normal choice of cutlery to have noodles.

There’s more in the video, that Nestlé India shouldn’t have overlooked. A post on that is following soon.

Also the green dot vegetarian mark on the end-frame stands out like a nazar ka tika. Nestlé India is trying too hard to please and stumbling in the process.

Maggi has responded to the query raised in this post. In reply to my tweet to Nestle India, Maggi India said [1, 2, 3], “You must be aware that the Hon’ble Bombay High Court has lifted the FSSAI ban order on Maggi Noodles. They have asked for fresh tests to be conducted in select accredited labs and these tests are still underway. We have taken a conscious decision not to use the Maggi Noodles pack shot in the film until the process is complete.”

Okay. It was the company’s “conscious decision.” However, in my opinion, they should have waited till Maggi was back on the shelves and this video would have then had manifold impact with Maggi featuring prominently in it. “Maggi returns, brings memories along,” could have been a possible title of a post on Cutting the Chai.

Banned in Pakistan - Josh condom ad
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This ‘immoral’ ad for Josh condoms is banned in Pakistan

The Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority recently banned the above advertisement for a contraceptive brand Josh for being ‘immoral’ and contrary to religious norms. Apparently the ad is so offensive that it received “deluge of complaints from the public” and “was considered an affront to Pakistani culture.”

The condom in question is marketed in Pakistan by DKT International. I wouldn’t comment on the morality bit, but on the quality parameter we have seen worse ads here in India.

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Zeenat Aman and Mazhar Khan in Baba Zarda ads

Many on-screen enchantresses have not been lucky in love and the sex-symbol of the 1970s Zeenat Aman is no exception. After her relationship with Sanjay Khan left her with a damaged eye, Zeenat married the already-married and a decade younger Mazhar Khan in 1985. The couple had two sons, Azaan and Zahaan. But this relationship also fell apart. Zeenat and Mazhar were divorced by 1998 and she was also reportedly assaulted by her in-laws and elder son. Mazhar Khan died the same year.

[Zeenat fan? There’s more for you on Cutting the Chai. Zeenat Aman as the classic dark-haired Indian beauty in 1970 Air India ad, Zeenat Aman’s childhood pics and a perfume named after Zeenat Aman]

In these Baba Zarda ads from the late 1980s/early 1990s they do appear to be very much in love.

In these Baba Zarda ads Zeenat Aman and Mazhar Khan appear to be very much in love.

Some moments mean so much more
Moments of joy.
Moments of laughter.
Moments of togetherness.
Made more tasteful with Baba.
For completely tobacco satisfaction…
without lighting up.
The unbeatable great original.
Baba Flavoured Chewing Tobacco
Zafrani Zarda

In these Baba Zarda ads Zeenat Aman and Mazhar Khan appear to be very much in love.

Some moments mean so much more
Moments of joy.
Moments of laughter.
Moments of togetherness.
Made more tasteful with Baba.
For completely tobacco satisfaction…
without lighting up.
The unbeatable great original.
Baba Flavoured Chewing Tobacco
Zafrani Zarda

Baba Flavoured Chewing Tobacco TVC featuring Zeenat Aman and Mazhar Khan

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

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.

Cherrapunjee - the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth
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Voltas All Weather AC (Murthy) ad gives Cherrapunjee a bad name

In a city like Delhi, your air conditioners should be all weather but not if you happen to be transferred to Cherrapunjee in Meghalaya.

In fact the Voltas All Weather AC advertisement on television (featuring the much-transferred Murthy) doesn’t paint the true picture of Cherrapunjee. Yes, it doesn’t rain as much as it used to in Sohra (the local name for the place) but we Meghalayans don’t take too kindly the portrayal of one of the state’s most popular tourist destinations as a humid hell.

Cherrapunjee - the Rainiest Place on Planet Earth

Eastern India may be more humid than the parched lands of North or Central India, but by no means Cherrapunjee is as sweaty as the Voltas ad presents it. The creative heads at Ogilvy’s Meridian have got their meteorology a little wrong. Precipitation does have a connection with humidity, but temperature plays a major role in the weather being sweltering. And the mercury doesn’t rise too high in these hills.

If you are planning to visit Cherapujee (and you must) don’t believe a word of what Murthy complains about Cherrapunjee.

Welcome to Cherrapunjee, always raining always chip chip
Walking sweating, talking sweating, bathing sweating, all sweating…

A couple of weeks ago, I was in Cherra and the weather there was as pleasant as a May in Meghalaya can be.

Such misleading advertisements can have an impact on tourism. And I take umbrage on behalf of my home state.

I have submitted a complaint with the Advertising Standard Council of India (ASCI) on this matter (my first). Just a little attempt to set the record straight.

But before you navigate away, here’s a video and a little lore on one of the amazing wonders of the place – Noh Ka Likai Falls (also written as Nohkalikai Falls). At 1,115 feet (340 metres), this is one of the tallest waterfalls in India.

A young woman named Ka Lokai had a daughter from a previous marriage and has married for the second time. Her new husband loathed his step-daughter. One day on returning from work in the fields she was surprised to find that her husband and prepared the evening meal and he also served the food to her himself. She ate the meal with relish. Later she discovered her daughter’s severed fingers in a betel nut basket. Distraught with grief and remorse she rushed to nearby cliffs and threw herself over the precipice adjoining the waterfalls. These falls have ever since been named Noh Ka Likai, which translates (from Khasi) to the leap of Ka Likai.

Amrutanjan Savita Bhabhi ad
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Amrutanjan takes on Zandu’s badnaam Munni with Savita Bhabhi

Amrutanjan Savita Bhabhi adThe script of the new ad for Amrutanjan Roll-On balm reads like one straight out from a Savita Bhabhi comic (minus the sex). Two couples travelling on a train, one young, another a little older. The young man steps out of the first class compartment to find some relief for a headache and the relief comes in the form of a sexy bhabhi who lovingly rolls-on the balm on the dazzled youth’s forehead (notice the expression on his face).

That’s not all. Later, when night progresses they both occupy the lower berths while their partners are sent upstairs to sleep on the upper berths, the man stretches his hand to express his gratitude, the woman says in a seductive voice, “Tumhe aaram mil gaya, mujhe aur kya chahiye? (It got you relief, what else can I desire for?)”

This ad may not run into any trouble with the babus at the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, however the Savita Bhabhi inspiration is obvious – the woman’s amorous expressions, seductive voice, transparent saree, a hint of cleavage, the prominent mangalsutra and the plot.

There has been some debate about the efficacy and safety of pain balms. India Today carried a story titled ‘Is Zandu Balm Any Good? Er… No‘ in the wake of the Dabangg-Zandu balm controversy and raised doubts on whether herbal over-the-counter pain balms actually work. Even if they don’t work, roll-on balms are a convenience over the messy apply-it-with-your-fingers balm. Continue reading

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
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Dissecting the Volkswagen Vento Talking Print Ad

The advertisement that got everyone talking: in the office, at home, on Twitter, on Facebook, on blogs and even on Google search.

Volkswagen came up with an innovative talking print advertisement in select editions of The Times of India (Mumbai, Bangalore, Delhi and Pune) and The Hindu for the Vento sedan on September 21, 2010.

This morning I was left wondering about the source of the sound, only to figure out, much later, that it was emanating from the newspaper in my hand. The only way I could shut it up was by putting down the paper.

Each of the editions had a separate four-page pullout (enveloping Delhi Times for The Times of India Delhi Edition), with soft-stories on three pages and the advertisement occupying the last page.

Video of the Volkswagen Vento talking ad in action

The ad shows a Volkswagen engineer crying looking at a finished Vento and the audio says, “The best in class German engineering is here. The new Volkswagen Vento. Built with great care and highly innovative features. Perhaps that’s why it breaks the hearts of our engineers to watch it drive away. The new Volkswagen Vento crafted with so much passion it’s hard to let it go. Volkswagen. Das Auto.”

Continue reading

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
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Toffees for change? Take this sandal instead

My wife, Varsha, gets peeved whenever the attendant at the cash counter offers toffees instead of change. She refuses to accept the toffee-currency and has even offered to pay them back in toffees. But Nana Patekar in the forthcoming release Tum Milo To Sahi does better, he offers a sandal.

I strongly support my wife (and Nana Patekar) in her endeavour against this illegal tender. The reasons:

– Neither the Parliament of India nor the Reserve Bank of India have designated toffees (of any denomination) as legal tender, therefore we are not legally bound to accept it and it is within our rights to reject any such form of pseudo-currency.

– The cost price of the toffee for the retailer is lesser than the MRP. Therefore, it means that everytime a shopkeeper hands us a Re 1 toffee, he stands to make a profit of around 20 paise (or whatever the margin is). Therefore it is in their interest to insist on toffees instead of change.

– For those who don’t have much of a liking for toffees (or the brand of toffees that they offer) it is a lose-lose scenario.

– It is quite unlikely that the supermarket/shop would accept a payment made in toffees (or a sandal in Nana’s case). If no take, then why give?

I agree that could be a genuine shortage of coins in the market, given that so many of them end up stored for years in piggy banks.

Well, here is a business idea, for anyone interested:

A virtual piggy bank. You go to a supermarket make purchases for Rs 99 and pay Rs 100 in cash. As usual, no change. But you don’t have to settle for that unwanted toffee. Just take out your virtual piggy bank card and the attendant will swipe it to add the Re 1 to your virtual piggy bank account. So every time there’s a shortage of change, the money gets added to your account. And one day when you have accumulated enough balance on your card you can redeem it.

If this doesn’t sound very feasible, here’s a simpler way out: Use your credit/debit card. But don’t take that toffee (unless you want to).

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
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Why I hate the new Tata Sky Plus (Elevator) Ad

I stay on the 12th floor of a 14-storey apartment building. This morning I had to rush to work and was waiting for the elevator and it stopped at every floor before it could reach mine.

No, as in the new Tata Sky Plus (Tata Sky+) ad my wife isn’t to blame. In fact I made a premptive purchase of a Tata Sky Plus DVR just before I got married.

And this has been happening quite frequently ever since the ad in question (see below) began airing on TV. I suspect that is either disgruntled women (the IPL season is on) or inspired kids (more likely) pressing all the buttons. Whatever the reason, it’s me doing the waiting.

The guys at O&M should think of the consequences when they come up with ideas that give people ideas (they also have wives at home, unless they already have a Tata Sky Plus or multiple TVs).

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Elevator / Lift)

My woes apart, the ads are fun. Here a couple more from the Tata Sky Plus ‘Cold War’ series:

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Burnt Toast)

Tata Sky Plus – Cold War (Mixie)

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
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No videos! Because deleted my account has deleted my account because I apparently violated their terms of service. I assume that it has something to do about the ads that I upload, they might have interpreted it as promotion for the goods/services. The worst part is that I wasn’t even informed.

Though my intention, as any regular reader of this blog would agree, was never to promote a particular product. It was to put at one place ads that people love and those from another age that I managed to dig out. It was for the students and the researchers and the ad lovers.

I hope restores my account or at least lets me download the content, so that I can put them up elsewhere (where they will be less likely to be taken off). Should have kept a backup of so many years of effort. I have some, but not all.

I used to host my videos because I found it much better than any other video sharing services out there. Though I didn’t intend to use ads on the videos (it doesn’t pay much anyway), I did because my conscience told so. So that the good guys at get some benefit from providing me with their (till now) excellent service.

To be fair to I even got paid for my share of the advertising revenue that the videos I uploaded generated and reinvested it back to my online interests.

Till the time I put things back in order, please bear with the videolessness (also some audio) on this blog. And this could take a while.

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
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Hindustan Times: Hitting the paper on the head

Hindustan Times It Is Time CampaignHindustan Times seems to have a thing for makeovers. I remember seeing at least four different avatars of the newspaper.

Good. Change is good.

Though I didn’t quite like their print campaign advertising the all new Hindustan Times, their short TV ads do make a point and hit the paper right on the head, literally.

Here are four TVCs from the Hindustan Times ‘it is time’ campaign.

Ironically, the ‘Better Journalism’ ad is also being aired on news channels.

Better Journalism

Open Our Minds

Stop Panicking

Being Cynical