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Brand Yatra: Amul’s ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ road to being an iconic brand

09-June-2009
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Brand Yatra: Amul’s ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ road to being an iconic brand

Brand
Amul

Current Agency
Da Cunha Associates & Draft FCB Ulka

Past Agencies
Same as above

‘Utterly Butterly Delicious!’ hummed a thumb-sized girl, dressed in a polka-dotted frock and just like that, a star was born -- a ‘pun’ loving star, who with her bold tongue-in-cheek topicals, made way directly into the hearts of millions. The history of the Amul girl can be traced back to 1967, when the first hoarding of Amul came up in Mumbai, and became an instant hit, especially with housewives.

For 30 odd years, the ‘utterly butterly’ girl has managed to keep her fan following intact. So much so that the ads are now ready to enter the Guinness Book of World Records for being the longest running campaign ever. The ultimate compliment to the brand came, when a British company launched a butter product last year, and called it Utterly Butterly. And the brand has managed all this despite spending less than one percent of its revenues on advertising.

It all began in 1966 when Sylvester daCunha, then the Managing Director of the advertising agency ASP, clinched the account for Amul butter, and the agency has been handling the campaign since. All the credit for the brand’s tag line ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious Amul’, the moppet and the yummy spoofs goes to daCunha.

Current Positioning: Consistency in the Charm of the Catchy lines

It is interesting to note that the Amul girl has always been flying high on the hoardings but never seen on television. Amul followed the umbrella branding strategy in its advertising. Amul is the common brand name for the company’s products across categories -- the Amul girl has also been used to advertise Amul ghee and milk. Its ad campaign ‘Amul doodh peeta hai India,’ conceptualised & created by Draft FCB-Ulka, was drafted to proclaim its leadership position, and was targeted at people across all income categories. The corporate campaign ‘The Taste of India’ caters to people belonging to all walks of life and across cultures.

The Amul girl, apart from promoting a $1-billion brand, has been bringing smiles to millions. Where does Amul’s magic actually lie? Many believe that the charm lies in the catchy lines, which revolves on humour that anyone could enjoy.

Rahul daCunha, Creative Director, da Cunha Associates elaborated, “Amul’s advertising has become a little edgier, a little more satirical in the last few years. We tend to focus more on popular culture and Bollywood now. My favourite in the last year was ‘Pow Bhajji’ when Harbhajan Singh slapped Shreeshant, and ‘Jhoota Kahin Kaa’ when the shoe was thrown at George Bush. The Amul ads have been loved so much because the idea is so simple and usually, the topic deals with something that everyone is thinking about, hence instant identification. I have loved every minute of working on the campaign, deciding every week on the topic, and how to visualise the issue, the line, the cartoon along with writer Manish Jhaveri and illustrator Jayant Rane.”

The importance of continuity is reiterated by the client too. Jayen Mehta, GM Marketing, Amul explained, “Amul’s products have evolved over the years. The creative for the butter is released without the client’s approval to ensure that topicality is maintained. And there’s the same continuity in Amul Taste of India as well.” He informed that there’s no fixed budget for Amul advertising, and that the spends vary every year.

An Onlooker’s Perspective: The ‘Indianness’ Works

Prabhakar Mundkur, Chief Executive Officer, PerceptH, said, “Amul’s advertising has been memorable; people were moved by it. Amul butter has followed the same tradition that it had followed in the past. You look forward to Amul Butter ads, and you want to know what the next thing they would say is -- they are entertaining. The ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’ baseline has gone unchanged for the last 40 years or so -- I am not sure the other Amul brands have the same impact.”

For Prathap P Suthan, National Creative Director, Cheil Communications, however, The Taste of India line is “more meaningful”. He noted, “The brand has perhaps deliberately not explored the potential of the line. Amul has entrenched itself to be the basic milk foods brand of the country, much like what State Bank of India is to banking.”

Speaking on what makes the ad so endearing, Mundkur observed, “They connected with the people. The Amul girl is one of the oldest mascots in Indian advertising along with the Air India Maharaja. By incorporating current events in Amul butter advertising, the brands remains fresh and evergreen.

Suthan agreed, and added that the Indianness of the campaign allowed it to connect so well with the people. He explained, “The Indianness is what they should be continuing to build. Amul is the essence of everything that stands for milky goodness made in India. It's out and out Indian. It's in a strange way the broadest niche brand ever. They can never be a modern contemporary brand with global cues of Haagen Daaz or Bryers etc.”

“The Amul Butter billboards have become a culture by itself. I do not think there has been any Indian moment of significance - whether its sports related, film related, politics related, personality related, achievement related, etc that has not been celebrated cheekily by Amul Butter. I once saw a take on India Shining too -- they called it India Dining. I was touched. It was like getting an award,” stated Suthan.

With advertising and marketing expenditures amounting to less than one percent of its total revenues, Amul stands out for its quality and variety.

Indeed, a Taste of India.

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