Amul: The butter, the Indian raconteur

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When Betty Botter said that a bit “of better butter will but make my butter better”, she was probably thinking Amul .  This co-operative organization was a catalyst for the Indian ‘White Revolution’ and now has a turnover of USD$1.05 bn.

Amul is one of India’s most resounding success stories, and due to its advertising, one of the most heartening. Marketing expenditure is only about 1% of total turnover. Yet the brand name is ubiquitous because it has for so long captured the Indian Zeitgest, or spirit of the age. Amul’s USP is that it is quintessentially Indian, and its 30yr+campaign focuses on issues important to the common man,  the ‘aam aadmi’: sports, politics, pop culture, religion and festivals, and the trials of daily life.

I’ve been up all night, caffeine-free, going through their entire ad archive , and I’d like to share some of my favourites.

The first few speak about Indo-Soviet relations, the next lot about America, the next few are clips from pop culture, snippets from sports, Indian life, festivals & religion, the Indo-Pak conflict, and finally newsmakers.

I love this. I am in awe of what technology can achieve, but I love this. Pencils & crayons, a mischievous mind, and an uncanny ability to tap into the mass mindset; that’s all it took to seize the public’s imagination. And we weren’t just ephemeral captives; thirty years on, my mom still talks about the Amul ‘butter baby’ ads. Amul was a pioneer in the sphere of Indian advertising; they set a precedent of wit and gentle self-mocking that still resonates today.

*Some readers may not get a few of the ads, as they deal either with uniquely subcontinental issues (such as the great load-shedding), and/or the punchlines may be a pun in Hindi/Urdu. Apologies for this, readers are welcome to shoot me questions in the comments section.

Utterly butterly yours,

Hit

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6 responses to “Amul: The butter, the Indian raconteur

  1. Fascinating analysis. I came across another slogan : One Man. One Vote. One Butter. Amul

    Canada can learn a lot from the East when it comes to creativity, for sure. But are a majority of Indian ads too India-centric for Canadians/Americans/Europeans to really understand the message? I’ve seen a few more ads from Fevicol, Kelvinator etc and until a friend explained the context to me, they just weren’t that funny.

    Drop me a line here itself, my website is still a WIP- but good job with this thing!

    Cheers,
    Craig

  2. Thanks for the words Craig. I found far too many brilliant ones by Amul, I really struggled with the POE. They are just that good, though I’m not a big fan of how their products taste!

    There are definitely some ads that hinge on uniquely Indian customs/traits, and/or Indian languages. However, the majority of Indian ads DO have a universal appeal; they speak to shared global interests such as women, money, power, sport, sex, irony, Hollywood, etc. I have a couple of these in my blog, check out the Fevicol video and the Second Hand Smoke image in my earlier entries: You can find them both in the Advert/Marketing category.

    As globalization increases, so will the universality of brand messages.

  3. My mom also talks about those Amul baby butter ads! cool blog

    • Sean this is a test comment. What I want to know is do you receive an email when I reply to your comment?

      Plz let me know,

      Hit

  4. Butter in India is still a luxury for many and the Amul target market is the middleclass who speak a mix of Hindi and English.so the ads follow the same and really go down well with a huge middleclass popn.The advertisements were simple,related to to the most current affairs and thus exciting to see.

  5. Pingback: Amul: The butter, the raconteur: Best of ‘08/09 « Moth Smoke Lingers…

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