Advertising, India, Outdoor Ads, Sex

Air India’s sarcastic Khajuraho kissing ad from the 1970s

A book and a cluster of temples have forever immortalised India has the ancient land of sex. I’ve been to Khajuraho twice and the temples are indeed amazing – even minus the erotic sculptures – and given that no worship happens in most of the temples, they are easily the most serene of the all the Hindu places of worship I have been to.

I’m not sure what triggered this sarcastic Air India ad, possibly from the 1970s, but the Maharaja bowlingly endorses this ancient form of expression of love.

Air India's sarcastic Khajuraho kissing ad from the 1970s

Of course kissing is an import from the West!
Khajuraho 11th century
Air India

Speaking of Air India and kisses, you might not want to miss Zeenat Aman as the classic Indian dark-haired beauty in 1970 Air India ad.

Ashok Kumar in Ambika King suitings ad
Advertising, Bollywood, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Ambiking Suitings ad: Ashok Kumar’s five fabric purchase tips

Ashok Kumar might have started as a reluctant actor, but Dadamoni soon transformed into one of the biggest stars of his time and Indian cinema’s first superhit Kismet (1943) had him as the lead. Ashok Kumar’s (born Kumudlal Ganguly) film career spanned over six decades in which he acted in about 300 films and a few television serials that included the landmark Hum Log (1984-1985) on Doordarshan.

He also appeared in the memorable baratiyo ka swagat Pan Parag se ho advertisement along with Shammi Kapoor. This incidentally was the first time the two veteran actors worked together and is the first thing that comes to mind when we think of Ashok Kumar and ads together. He also lent his bespectacled smile for a lesser known product – Ambiking Suitings (Note the huge ring on his left hand).

Ashok Kumar in Ambika King suitings ad

Give Ambiking Suitings the total test

Check the fabric: The texture and weave of the fabric is what gives it good wearing qualities
Check the finish: A smooth finish is what makes the fabric feel nice… next to you
Check the design: Designs should be contemporary and classic – with an accent on the changing fashions
Check the quality: Make sure of the composition of the blend, the fastness of colours and the wash and wear properties
Check the name: The final and often the only thing you need to check. ‘AMBICA’ – the name that carries the stamp of quality

‘Ambirised’ pre-shrunk fabric
Shri Ambica Mills

Agency: Bidhan

Ad Videos, Advertising, Books, Downloads, History, India, Lists, Outdoor Ads, Print Ads, Reviews, Videos, Vintage Indian Ads

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.

Advertising, Bollywood, Books, Fantastic Females, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Ad from 1979: Look, that’s Rekha with a Lakme face

Apart from a few Lakme ads an the Lux ads, that is almost mandatory for any Bollywood actress of note to feature in, I haven’t seen the enigmatic Rekha in many other advertisements. Though I am quite sure, that given her popularity she would’ve appeared in a atleast a few more.

At her peak in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, Rekha was the face of Lakme, then a Tata company, and this print ad by daCunha is from 1979.

Rekha in a 1979 Lakme advertisement

What’s shooting?
Rekha in Lakmé

Sating Glow Liquid Make-Up.
Ultra-Silk Face Powder and Compacts.

Rekha used only imported make-up. The best. Then we gave her Lakmé. ‘Too much!,’ she said. She couldn’t tell the difference. Nor will you. Look, that’s Rekha with a Lakmé face. Find out what Rekha discovered. Find yourself a Lakmé face.

The beauty maker.

I was reminded of this particular Lakme ad by a sultry Rekha (from Utsav (1984)) the cover of Bollywood: A History by Mihir Bose. Bought the book this Sunday from the Daryaganj Sunday Book Market. Though some reviews don’t speak very highly of the book, I don’t mind reading as long as it gives me additional insights to the cinema that is close to my heart.

Advertising, Bollywood, Fantastic Females, Movies, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Zeenat Aman is the classic Indian dark-haired beauty in 1970 Air India ad

“Memories of dark-haired beauties,” is what a traveller to India will bring back, promises a 1970 advertisement for Air India. “Long after you leave India, India will still be with you,” says the tag line. And that dark-haired beauty modelling for the ad is none other than Zeenat Aman (I did an image overlay check to authenticate if it indeed is Zeenat and am 95%100% assured. Let me know if this is someone else. It has happened to me before). Before venturing into movies and hitting it big with the landmark Hare Rama Hare Krishna (1971), Babushka also did a little stint as a model, she was a beauty queen after all – Miss Asia-Pacific 1970.

Zeenat Aman in a 1970 Air-India advertisement

Long after you leave India, India will still be with you.

For $793 Air-India will give you a 17-day vacation in India.

We’ll take you to a world where palaces speak of ages past, even while the cities talk of today. We’ll fly you around inside India, giving you room, private bath and meals. And we’ll bring you home with a headful of memories: of dark-haired beauties, exotic shops and even more exotic countryside.

(We can also give you the lowest-priced India ever. Just $600 for two weeks in Delhi, your air-conditioned hotel, most meals, the Taj Mahal and the jet round-trip.)

Off you go to your travel agent.

Air-India has something money can’t buy.

Early ads featuring Zeenat Aman are treasured by Zeenat fans, as so few have been collected and chronicled. Vinayak at At the Egde has a 1972 Babushka ad for Taj Mahal Tea

Jugal Hansraj Nutramul dada
Advertising, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads

Nutramul dada: Jugal Hansraj’s second-best role ever

Second-best, as his best was in Masoom (1983). Maybe growing up and stopping the Nutramul intake had an adverse effect on Jugal Hansraj.

His acting career went nowhere and his directorial dreams also seem to be headed the same way.

This advertisement from the late 1970s has a young Jugal as Raju, a boy who didn’t like milk till his mother added Nutramul to it transforming him into the kicking and punching Niutamul dada.

Jugal Hansraj as Nutramul Dada

“Raju hated milk … till I added Nutramul.”

“Now he’s a Nutramul dada.”

It’s such a problem getting children to drink their milk. That’s why thousands of mothers bless delicious Nutramul. Nutramul delivers taste and strength. Nutramul is rich in cocoa, milk and malt – tastes superb. And contains proteins, vitamins and minerals. So nourishing for growing bodies. Flavourful Nutramul – every cup builds you up.

Amul’s Nutramul
Every cup builds you up

Marketed by
Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Limited.
Anand, Gujarat

Agency: daCunha

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Advertising, Print Ads, Vintage Indian Ads


Meghna Girohtra, from Bombay, has collected 243 vintage Indian print advertisements (on the last count) on Flickr. A collection which she intends to keep growing and wants to create an online archive of vintage ads. It does feel good to know that I’m not alone in my endeavour.

Through my blog I’ve met many a ad aficionados, but rarely have I interacted with a collector. And I couldn’t resist borrowing a few ads from her collection.

Here are some additions to Sexy Indian Advertisements (courtesy Meghna):

Liril (1982)
[Come alive with freshness
Totally different LIRIL. Rippled green with the
exciting freshness of limes. Tangy, tingling LIRIL
…makes a fresh new woman of you.
Liril the freshness soap
with the exciting freshness of limes
A quality product of Hindustan Lever]

Agency: Lintas

Ultrx Luxury Towels from Bombay Dyeing (1989)
[Ultrx Luxury Towels – in a variety of vibrant colours. Made with superior Japanese technology to give you a towel that is comparale to the finest in the world.
Softer, super-absorbent and with an ultra-rich pile. In 100% pure cotton.
Available as single towels or sets. Also in a special luxury large size.]

…featuring a teenaged Lisa Ray. Probably the hottest import from Canada that ever arrived on Indian shores.
Well, it seems that I had been too smitten by Lisa and mistook someone else for her. Meghna (the source of these ads) tells me that according to her friend Salil it ain’t Lisa but Aliya Knightley.
Agency: Lintas

More Liril freshness from 1989
[Come alive with Liril freshness
With the exciting freshness of limes
Liril the freshness soap]
Agency: Lintas

Yet more Liril, girl and the waterfall.
Agency: Lintas

Bombay Dyeing (1983)
[The ultimate in bedwear
Polycot –
Polyester blended deluxe sheets
Beaucale and Supercale –
Luxurious pure cotton sheets
Bombay Dyeing
The difference shows]

Agency: Ulka

Thums Up (1986)
[Thums Up makes it great
The refreshing cola]

Before the thunder struck it was babes in bikinis cooling off with what was once India’s favourite aerated drink

Bombay Dyeing sarees
[Five metres can be a lot of mischief
Bombay Dyeing
100% polyester sarees
Polyester Georgette sarees]

Indeed the five metres can do wonders to a woman (and also the ogling men)

Well I have another adholic in the family, my one-and-a-half-year old nephew Aahan aka Aarohan (more pics here). He likes watching TV, particularly advertisements. In fact he wouldn’t have his food unless there’s an ad playing before him. My brother and sis-in-law keep the remote handy, as soon as the commercial ends on one channel they have to switch to another. Aahan especially has a liking for bike and cycle ads. And does recall his Chachu (ie me) whenever the Sunny Deol Lux Cozy ad is on air (I don’t fancy myself as Sunny though).

Cutting the CHai - Default featured image
Advertising, Print Ads, Sex, Vintage Indian Ads

Sexy Indian Ads

Adjective: sexy (sexier, sexiest) seksee
1. Marked by or tending to arouse sexual desire of interest
“feeling sexy”; “sexy clothes”; “sexy poses”; “a sexy book”; “sexy jokes”
2. Exciting sexual desire

That’s what the wonderful and handy dictionary – WordWeb – describes the word “sexy” as.

Since it is difficult to be suggestive (leave alone being explicit) without inviting the wrath of the right, left and the centre in India, the sexiness quotient in Indian advertising is different from more liberal societies.

The Ministry of Information & Broadcasting has prohibited the transmission or retransmission of the advertisements of ‘Lux Cozy Underwear’ and ‘Amul Macho Underwear’ on all broadcasting platforms with immediate effect.

Nevertheless, we have had a lot of campaigns with a lot of oomph. From the vintage to the ones from century present, I’ve attempted to collect some. More will follow.

Sexiness depends on the point of view (pun intended). What’s sexy for one is obscene or tasteless or even loathsome for others. Here are some generalisations.

First the Amul Macho chaddi ad, which has got everyone, from the mithaiwallah to the mantri, so excited.

[Click on the images for a bigger (and better) view]


Sanah Khan with her twaing expression.


To share/embed this video click here
Download video [00:00:44 FLV 1 MB]

Any gyaan on the meaning or symbolism of the word twaing?

It was Liril – and the original Liril girl Karen Lunel – which added the much needed sizzle to the world of Indian advertising.

Towel wrapped sexiness from 1975. Bombay Dyeing.

The big bad controversy. A campaign for Tuffs shoes and the hot couple Milind Soman and Madhu Sapre in the buff (except for their Tuffs shoes) and a python coiled between them.

More Tuffs. More skin.

Now here’s the python with Madhu Sapre. Wonder where Milind went? Maybe the python got jealous and hungry at the same time.

Well men say that they like the ‘eyes’ but actually they mean what their eyes see. And you know where. Dayal Opticals do help you see better.

“Nokia N93i with extra powerful zoom.” Does it zoom any closer?

That anorexic female from the Numero Uno ad. (Damn! I can’t recollect her name). More of her later.

Why does Levis call them Low Rise jeans? Shouldn’t they be Low Fall?

Okay, now I got it. When they fall low, others rise. All the faces in the above two ads seem familiar. Can you name them all?

I don’t like the look of the new Bisleri bottle. The previous one featured in their ‘Play Safe’ campaign looked much better. Well, it would’ve been even better if the bottle wasn’t there. More from the campaign in later episodes.

Dark desires. Now I got her name. Lakshmi Menon in Swatch Bijoux ad.

More of swatchy, sultry and sweaty Lakshmi.

[To be continued. Keep a tab here for updates]