Utterly Butterly Delicious


This story is about most loved brand Amul-The Taste of India and their ever consistent advertising campaign featuring The Amul poppet(cute,little,naughty girl in her polka dots more often than not relishing Amul butter and other products).Their chief architect Dr Verghese Kurien was exemplary in bringing in the White Revolution, the largest dairy development programme in the world named as Operation Flood.

White Revolution was the offshoot of India’s Freedom movement, to empower the farmers by freeing them from the clutches of self serving middle men by eliminating them and in turn setting up a milk corporation. A farmer would bring milk cans on a daily basis to his nearest collection centre in his village and would be paid cash instantly based on quality and fat content in the weighed milk. The interesting thing here is, this milk is largely purchased by women thus empowering them economically and socially. 

Anand,once a serene and quiet village is today a symbol of modern nationalism. It is the headquarters of the Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd(GCMMF) and brand Amul. In the aftermath of 1962 Indo-China war, it was very difficult time for India. Agriculture was the top priority for our honorable Prime Minister of India Lal Bahadur Shastri. He even went to coin a slogan- Jai Jawan, Jai Kisaan. One hugely successful programme was milk co-operative movement in Gujarat under the leadership of Mr. Kurien. In 1964, our PM, wished to spend one night at a farm in Anand without any presence of customary security.He along with Kurien sneaked out into a farmers place to understand and empathize about their current situation, their problems, concerns and experiences with the Co-operative movement. After a good connect, PM requested Mr Kurien to replicate this on a national level paving the way for National Dairy Development Board headquartered at Anand.

It was vital for Amul-the Brand to market its products more effectively to capture the imagination of all its prospective customers. They felt services of a professional ad agency were outright necessary. So they hired an advertising agency to do their marketing and more importantly they gave them free hand and didn’t interfere whatsoever. That was the wisest decision ever taken in what could be a unbeaten partnership(a partnership, one cannot emulate easily) by which Amul grew leaps and bounds.

The positioning statement for their Amul butter was “processed from purest milk under the most hygienic conditions by a dairy co-operative from Gujarat“. And that’s when, to further refine the communication-Sylvester DaCunha who was driving the advertising campaign came up with this winning slogan “Utterly Butterly Delicious” when casually discussing with his wife. Eustace Fernandes, the art director, visualized and sketched a charming little poppet in a polka dots frock with matching ribbon in her ponytail. She was licking her lips to say “Utterly Butterly Delicious“. She was cute, smart, naughty, innocent,cheeky without any malice. This was an outright winner and rest is history. Over 50 years of advertising with the same character expressing varied emotions with diverse messaging theme is legendary. It only brings back memories of The Common Man cartoon created by the master illustrator R K Laxman.

It was decided that the agency would go with outdoor campaigns and hoarding at prime locations of Bombay was the best bet. When the first hoarding with the Amul poppet was put up, it was an instant success. A housewife, was drying her clothes in her balcony when she saw few people gathering on the main road. As crowd grew, she rushed to see, whether there was any accident only to find her kid pointing her to the hoarding with a cute little kid advertising for Amul. Such was the power of their communication and it’s underlying impact on psyche of their customer.

After few stints, the agency planned to go topical with their campaigning picking up topics of national interest. However topical ads, posed a challenge. One had to select a topic, create a rough sketch, present it to client, tweak it to incorporate client’s suggestions and then after final approval,distribute it to hoarding contractors. This would easily take a week by which the topic in hand would loose its relevance and hence the connect.

This was when Dr Kurien did the unthinkable. He gave a complete free hand to the agency to create their own ads without any client interference. The client just like common man on the street had the first look only when it was displayed in a hoarding in select prime locations of Bombay.

This was a great gesture and led to an unassailable partnership, the campaign,the wittiness of the ad, gave us enough reasons to chuckle about over the years. However, it had its own share of controversy when some of the ads didn’t go well with some institutions and was dealt in appropriately when the need arose.

There are no favorites, there cannot be, as one cannot pick and choose few of the topicals which are great. They have been very successful in capturing collective Indian consciousness. Anyone from an 8 year old kid to a 80 year old octogenarian,can relate to their ads and relish them.

So what ticks for Amul in terms of messaging? Is it just about playing with the words and having a popular opinion? In Product Marketing terms, their messaging has a pattern of grabbing the eyeballs of the onlooker by which they reinforce their offerings, why they are best in the business? Why Amul butter is the best butter one can have, why they are ahead of the competition etc. Also, there is some sort of vanity and bragging rights, that using Amul sounds cool. They adopt a messaging which energizes and inspires and in turn persuades their target persona to try their products.

I know some of my friends who have created an album of sorts of their topicals. Personally, this book- Amul’s India has been one of the good reads to understand the story behind these topicals and different point of views from celebrities from all walks of life who have their own Amul story to share. It’s Utterly Butterly Delicious 🙂 Hope you enjoyed it as much I had putting up this post.

Picture credits and References: Amul’s India- Based on 50 Years of Advertising by DaCunha Communications

Mumbai Rains!!!


I love rains, especially when you’re living in a city like Mumbai where rains are a big respite after a spell of scorching summer. The first rains are always a special occasion because of petrichor. I love it!! The cool breeze, watching rains from the balcony with pleasant smell of mud, a hot coffee by the side and reading my favorite book, Nothing like it! I am a book lover too but past month or so, have been very hectic. My niece, who is one of the leading architects from the city, had suggested some modifications in our interiors. After lot of persuading, I managed to convince my husband Amol, for the planned changes. Last week was special, we did the interiors and our home decor is looking like a million bucks now. After setting up my home clean and organized with the help of my maid, I got sufficient time to relax for a while. And just then, when I sat on my cozy balcony chair with my favorite book and a cup of coffee, Mumbai received first rains of the season. It’s been a week now since it’s raining almost daily, looks like the season has caught up and monsoon is here to stay.

We live in Nava Bharat Housing Co Operative Society in D Block 7th Floor in Dombivli East. Basically I am a housewife, taking care of my family and managing household affairs. My husband is an Advertising Professional in a leading Ad agency setup in Jogeshwari, a western suburb in Mumbai. He is working in a senior executive role. His work requires him to travel often and stay in office at odd hours too. He says that it’s a challenging job because in a creative profession like his, one has to always think out of the box, come up with crazy ideas and thought process to create a product of compelling value to the client. I am pretty much impressed by his hard work and dedication towards his work apart from his loving and caring nature. We had a love marriage 21 years ago and it has been a great one, with lot of ups than downs. He trusts me completely in whatever I venture into and has been a great support system. In domestic affairs, he doesn’t heed much and gives me complete freedom in running it. For any additional support, he is always there for me. We have a sweet daughter Navya who is turning 17 this September. She is doing her 11th grade in Vidyaniketan College in Kalyan, one of the top colleges from the city. Navya is apple of our eye, our source of happiness. She completed her Class 10 with flying colors finishing 9th rank for the CBSE board. Being good academically throughout her schooling, she is as good as a sportswoman as one could be. She is the captain of Basketball team and has competed at state level for 2 consecutive years. And like her loving father, she is creative and pursuing painting as her hobby. She has successfully completed an international assignment too, connecting with like-minded people across the globe. Overall, she is an all-rounder. I take care of her studies when she is home and needs my help; for creative pursuits she connects with her dad.

Last week, Amol won a contract of a leading FMCG conglomerate and it was a great moment of joy and pride for us. But on the downside, he has been very busy since then to leave no stone unturned to restore the immense trust the client have bestowed in him and his team. So these days, he reaches home very late sometimes past midnight. Yesterday, Navya had basketball practice sessions after her classes and post-practice, she had to attend a birthday bash of her best friend Ramya, my namesake. So I was told she would be late and reach home by 9pm. I was out for shopping to get some traditional sarees for an upcoming family event and just when I reached home at 8 pm; it started raining cats and dogs. I called up Navya to enquire where she was, didn’t get a reply, thought she was busy enjoying the party, so texted her instead. And some time later, I got a reply from Navya that she would be home soon. Amol had back to back meetings yesterday and I was told he would be late. The rain was relentless as could be seen from the balcony and I got busy in setting up my wardrobe and getting the dinner ready. It was 9.30 pm now and with no signs of Navya, I called her again; this time I couldn’t connect her phone. It was getting late enough to be worried. I once again stepped into the balcony and looked down. Except for a drenched street dog that was lying down miserably near the gate, there was not a soul to be seen anywhere. Rain water had puddled under the lamp post. A breeze ruffled the mango tree in the courtyard and a few twigs fell down and broke. Thunder rumbled in the distance. Did I hear a soft knock at the door? I turned back.

It was Mrs. Srivastava who lived in the same block on 11th floor; she came to enquire about her son Rohan. Rohan was Navya’s friend, studying in the same college as her and had accompanied Navya to the birthday party. Mrs. Srivastava was worried too as her son who was supposed to be home by 9, had not returned. She came downstairs to check whether Navya was home. But when she realized that even Navya had not returned, their phones switched off and with relentless rain and thunderstorms, she became more anxious and worried. Even their other friends were unreachable on phone. To further enhance our predicament, even the news showing up on the TV in the background was talking only about the Mumbai rains, inherent water logging and traffic logjams. We had to do something, but were in dilemma. I was about to call Amol when someone ringed the doorbell again. When I opened, there was no one to be seen. But there was a beautiful bouquet of red roses placed with a birthday card on it. I could make out that it was in Navya’s handwriting. It read: Thanks for being here, for being you, I love you lots. Happiest of birthdays. XOXO. But why was it lying here? And who ringed the bell? I checked the whole corridor, checked the staircases, lift etc. but no one to be seen anywhere. And when I returned back to my flat, lights were switched off almost instantly. What was happening?? I got scared now.

I was sweating and shivering with fright and when I tried to switch on the lights, I heard someone was waiting for me eagerly. I could sense that somehow. And once I managed to switch on the lights, I could hear familiar voice of Navya and Amol singing Happy Birthday to me, well supported by whole lot of people singing in unison. The birthday crew included my nephew, my sister, apartment acquaintances, friends from the gym, family friends, Amol’s colleagues, some of Navya’s friends, all led by Mrs. Srivastava holding a delicious cake. Navya came forward and hugged me tightly, wishing me a happy birthday just few minutes before I turned 50. She jokingly said- Mom, I told you I would be late as I was to attend birthday bash of my friend Ramya, I was just doing that, albeit planning it and moreover you’re my best friend too. Amol, who was busy all these days, I didn’t knew he was busy today planning and scheming this surprise for me. If I were his client, I would be mighty impressed by his ideas and the surprise element and sign the contract on dotted lines very happily. He hugged me and presented me a gorgeous dress and a diamond necklace which was exquisite. OMG!! What a stunner it was!! I was delighted by his gesture. And Mrs. Srivastava turned out to be a natural actor, didn’t give me a hint of what was coming. Apparently, Amol and Neha had invited all the guests without my cognizance and were plotting a plan all this while in the community hall beside our flat and it turned to be a huge surprise to me. I went in to change to my birthday dress along with the necklace. And when I was back, I was awed again; the living room was decorated with flowers, balloons, birthday craft bunting, lights and lanterns. Navya, had specially prepared a beautiful cone shaped birthday hat and a sash with Birthday Girl written on it. I felt like a pampered child again. And every guest had a birthday prop put on- someone had a headwear, wigs, feather boas, mustaches and beards, party ties, hair bands, funky eye glasses, face masks, wand, headband and wings. It looked like a well thought out plan and I was very much overwhelmed. Then, it was time to cut the cake and everyone started singing happy birthday for me. Amol had ordered my favorite food from the nearby restaurant and everyone set out for the birthday bash dinner. All this while, my nephew captured all the proceedings of the event, those precious moments of shock, surprise, happiness and bliss on his GoPro camera and we looked at it again and again and had a good laugh over it.

Never ever I had dreamt of such a surprise. I was overjoyed for this lovely gesture by everyone for turning up, making my 50th birthday a memorable and a special event. This was the story I made up, when I was getting bored on a long distance train journey