Jayant Rane , Manish Jhaveri , Rahul DaCunha : Amul Girl turns 50: Meet the three men who keep her going

The noseless girl with blue hair continues to be nosing about in her red polka-dotted frock. She looked up at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the summertime of 2014 with the oneliner Accha din -ner aaya hai.

The noseless girl with blue hair continues to be nosing about in her red polka-dotted frock. She looked up at Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the summertime of 2014 with the oneliner Accha din -ner aaya hai.

When his monogrammed suit was being auctioned, she cheekily smiled with the tagline “And the highest court is...”. The Amul girl, a buttered toast in one hand and a prompt oneliner on her lips, has been a commentator on the zeitgeist for 50 years — from sterilisation during the Crisis (“We have consistently practised compulsory sterilisation,” says the Amul girl, holding a salver of butter and with a cunning innocence that would have tied up even Indira Gandhi’s censors in knots) to Aamir Khan’s statement on growing intolerance (Amul girl offered a gold slice and requested him Aal izz hell or aal izz nicely?).

He answered, “Thank you when Amul tweeted a birthday wish to Modi, who has been the butt of its butter jokes. Your sense of humour has always been broadly respected.” The Amul girl is the fine brat who gets away with it: her wide-eyed innocence is a counterpoint to her cutting wit, her young appearances are balanced by her weighty statements, her hand - painted nostalgia is offset by her on the ball trendy. “As India gets dimmer, the campaign is a ray of the guy driving the Amul campaign,” Rahul daCunha, creative director of daCunha Communications and sunshine to get about what they are feeling dreary about folks laugh, tells ET Magazine.

Daily Butter

DaCunha’s dad Sylvester daCunha in 1966 started the Amul campaign among others, along with illustrator Eustace Fernandes and Usha Katrak. The advertisements had been staid and stuck to the basic summary of selling butter, although it was a prestigious accounts. When Sylvester took over, he decided to pitch it differently. “My dad realised that there was only so much one could say about food,” says Rahul.

There was no television and print was extremely expensive. An outdoor hoarding was a great way to advise folks.” It featured the Amul girl with the word “Thoroughbread”, followed by the famed motto, Utterly Butterly Delicious. The Amul campaign was inherited by Rahul daCunha from his father in the early 1990s.

All through his childhood and youth, he says, his dad gave him paltry pocket money with the reason that he'd give him the Amul campaign. While passing it on, Sylvester had a word of advice for his son: don’t “get into too much trouble, but say things the way they should be said”. During Sylvester’s time itself, a Mumbai hoarding on Ganesh Chaturthi went Ganpati Bappa More Ghya past(Ganpati, Eat More), a play on the festival shout Ganpati Bappa Morya, and earned the wrath of Shiv Sena members who threatened to vandalise his office. Under Rahul, the effort increasingly commented on sports, films and politics, but stayed clear of religious dilemmas. The ads became controversial nonetheless.

When it was dubbed “British Errways” after Sachin Tendulkar’s bags got misplaced, last year, British Airways too called the agency to state its displeasure. The only copywriter for the Amul campaign, Manish Jhaveri, says its vocabulary got a postage that is distinct in 1995. Amul came up with the line Party, Patni Ya Woh, a take on the movie Pati, Patni Aur Woh when there was a direction tangle involving VP Singh, Sonia Gandhi and PV Narasimha Rao. Jhaveri says the advertising confirmed Amul’s style of borrowing from popular culture, punning and blending regional and the colloquial with the proper.

Shoving on the vernacular flavour, Amul has done efforts in Gujarati, Tamil, Bengali and Punjabi also. daCunha says the fearlessness of the Amul campaign has dribbled down in the visionary Verghese Kurien, who created the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) that sells its products under the Amul brand.

The run that is fearless has endured after Kurien’s passing in 2012, although mercifully, it didn’t come to that. We believe in consistency. Our ad agency has never changed,” says managing director, RS Sodhi, GCMMF, about daCunha Communications. They understand what they're doing. We now have we mostly do before they go through to hoardings n’t even look at the drafts and beliefs in their work.”

Making of an Amul Advertising

Amul has arguably the longest running hoarding ad campaign in India. It might additionally have one of the littlest ad teams. Apart from Da Cunha and Jhaveri, who has been to it with the campaign for 22 years, the only other man integral is illustrator Jayant Rane, who is sketching for 30 years. Their output has kept pace with the times.

The effort’s target audience is the multitasking, up to date and opinionated 16-25-year-olds who see the world through their smartphones and have really short attention spans. An advertisement must capture them by the scruff of their neck when an issue is red-hot. Deciding on the exact moment to come out with it's a science and picking a subject for an ad, says da-Cunha.

He uses the term “topic plus,” which means an issue that changes elicits dynamic and the public head and not simply one-dimensional reactions or black/white opinions.

“For example, when Uri was attacked by Pakistan, I didn’t know what people were feeling about it. I didn’t understand what our response as a nation will be. Doing an advertising occasionally entails holding back and waiting for public perception ,” he says. India carried out surgical strikes along the LoC, which led to Amul’s “sURIgical Strikes”. Social media is becoming the weather vane to estimate public awareness. “I get the trend from newspapers. However, I get the point of view from media that is social,” says daCunha.

More ads are now put out by them on media that is social than on hoardings. This means Rane must be extra cautious with the detailing as illustrations are more clear on a screen than on an overhead hoarding. Rane, as an example, sought for the exact colour of the cricketers’ blazers for an advertisement celebrating the 500th Test match of Team India on September 22.

The Amul girl has withstood the test of time when many other mascots — Asian Paints’ Gattu, the Onida demon or the Air India maharaja — have either been lost by the brands (Asian Paints and Onida) or not been used for their full potential (Air India). His team and DaCunha understand what's worked for the campaign, which will be why it has undergone little change over the years. Within an age of multi- generic art forms, the Amul ads are still painstakingly hand- . He was presented through scrapbooks compiled by the preceding teams to the Amul moppet.

He calls them “guide books has followed them and ”. Rane says it’s a stylistic choice to give the Amul girl’s features — long eyelashes, no nose, wide eyes and chubby cheeks — to celebs who are featured in the advertisement. Little allowances are made for discernible characteristics such as Amitabh Bachchan’s white French beard or Tendulkar’s curly hair. The effort has a checklist of attributes on what it requires to make it and a list of favourite people. Boring is out.

Somebody has to have failed or triumphed, says daCunha. In Bollywood, Bachchan is a favourite as are Shah Rukh Khan and Karan Johar. Among politicians, apart from Modi, Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and his Tamil Nadu counterpart J Jayalalitha are favored. Idiosyncrasies are a huge draw — like Kejriwal’s muffler and the facial features of Lalu Prasad Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav. But UP CM Akhilesh Yadav and Mulayam’s son does make the cut. Among businessmen, the Ambanis and Vijay Mallya have already been covered often but Ratan Tata was brought only once — says daCunha. The advertising thought of a brand ambassador or has never used real individuals. DaCunha says he's against roping in celebs for ad campaigns The star becomes more important as opposed to product. I don’t understand any more what cricketer MS Dhoni advertises these days. Bachchan is every other brand.”

All this helps in keeping the Amul advertisements simple and cost-effective. Amul spends 1% of its overall turnover on marketing, says Sodhi. Apart from daCunha Communications, ad agency FCB Ulka handles the advertising for Amul’s other products. Piyush Pandey, chairman of Ogilvy & Mather India, says, “I think they have done a fantastic occupation for decades,” adding that perhaps they should be more choosy. They could do with being more discerning to live up to their own standards.

He says he wouldn’t, however, shift the old feel and look of the ads. “They stand out because of that art that is basic. Occasionally old is gold.” The makers of the Amul ad are careful about what the Amul girl says. While public humour in India has transformed, peppered with innuendos, the Amul girl indulges in none of that. “She is a child,” says daCunha. “She is also not really young,” he adds, pointing. Additionally, people feel responsible for her. Several years back, the Amul girl had featured as among the characters in the advertising. Once she was a cheerleader at daCunha and an IPL match confronted furious opinions on why she was portrayed in a short skirt. He says, he attempts to keep her at an objective distance. DaCunha uses individuals for admin and production work but doesn’t hire anyone for the effort. Nor has he felt the need to take another assignment that was similar up.

Will be an alsoran. DaCunha is 54, Jhaveri 47 and Rane is 57. What about sequence? They're not thinking about it. They are not thinking about taking a lengthy holiday. The trio say they nearly never switch off from the effort and are wired to work on vacations. Rane barely ever goes on vacations. When asked what would happen if some day Jhaveri asks for a three-month holiday, daCunha says: “I’d shoot him!” All this for the with-it girl with blue hair who adores her pun maska.