It’s been fifty years since Amul girl first appeared in a topical ad. Titled “Thoroughbread”, the ad showed a jockey holding a slice of bread during the horse race season in 1966.
The impish Amul missy had appeared for the first time even before that, with Eustace Fernandez showed her offering bed-time prayers with a wink and a lick of lips, saying “Give us this day our daily bread: with Amul butter”. But the topical hits started flowing in since 1966.
The Amul campaign started by Sylvester daCunha with other illustrators including Fernandez and Usha Katrakanda has been one of the longest running ad campaigns ever. It not only has taken India by storm since, but has also become a parallel timeline of India’s history, with strokes of butter on the canvas of bread.
Here are some of the markworthy hits from the Amul series:
1976 - The Emergency
The Amul girl is seen During the Emergency when Maintenance of Internal Security Act was introduced
1980s - Sterilisation drive
Taking a jibe at the compulsory sterilisation drive introduced during the Indira Gandhi regime, Amul made a point conveying their own product policy with this hit.
1992 - On the Enron scam
In 1992, The US-based Enron Corp announced a $3 billion natural-gas power plant in Dabhol in Maharashtra. The project, claimed to be the biggest direct foreign investment in India just after the 1991 economic reforms, instead turned out to be an economic disaster and a human rights nightmare.
1992 - Indian Airlines pilot on strike
When the Indian Airline pilots resorted to strikes for increase in their “bread and butter” pay scales, Amul made sure it wins some donuts with this one.
December 2000 - Bhai ka Bollywood
Many said that Bollywood movies at the onset of the 2000s were funded by the powerful underworld. And many believed that some actors were on the speed dial of the handlers in the dark alleys of the B-town. Bollywood had become Bhai-llywood.
On Jagmohan Dalmiya and BCCI
When the then BCCI chief Jagmohan Dalimiya was grappling with irregularities in cricket administration, Amul came out to bowl and threw this bouncer, showing him in the “hear no evil, speak no evil, see no evil” monkey poses, with a caption “Dalmiya mein kuchh kala hai?”.
Dalmiya even threatened to sue Amul and its founder Verghese Kurien for Rs 500 crore, says daCunha.
When the Hindu god came visiting to India, an Amul ad which featured a girl offering the lord Ganesh some butter saying “Ganpati Bappa More Ghya” - “Ganpati Bappa, take more”. The butter maker invited knife (and swords) of the Shiv Sena, which was enraged at the word play.
“Aila, Where’s my bag?”
When British Airways once misplaced Sachin Tendulkar’s luggage, Amul came out with this: “British Errways?”. The agency later received a call from the airliner.
2009 - Satyam Scam
In 2009 came a jab from Amul on the Satyam Scam in which chairman Ramalinga Raju was alleged to have committed a fraud of Rs 7,136 crore. Amul did not spare the Satyam CEO Ramalinga Raju then, with this hit.
Rahul daCunha, creative director, daCunha Associates, says, “We conceptualised the idea in 20 minutes after the news of the scam was out and the creatives left for the South Indian market the same day. In Mumbai, the hoardings were put up two days later.”
May 2014 - New era in Indian politics
In May 2014, the NDA alliance won New Delhi and this Amul won millions of hearts, simply playing around the most popular slogan given out by PM Narendra Modi - “Achhe din aayenge”.
November 2015 - Aal izz well?
In the backdrop of “growing intolerance” in the country, Aamir Khan’s comment expressing his wife Kiran Rao’s “fear” of living in India drew flak from left, right and centre. This poster shows the Aamir and Kiran Rao, who is seen packing the suitcase, being approached by the Amul girl with the trademark ‘bread and butter’.
Dec 2015 - Net neutrality
When Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) had to take a call on net-neutrality in India -- the principle that all content and applications over the internet should be available for access to all equally, regardless of the source, and without favouring or blocking particular products or websites.
Sept 2016 - Surgical Strikes
Indian security personnel “Paks a punch” as they successfully conduct surgical strikes along the Line of Control, days after the terror attack on Uri army base, in which 19 soldiers were killed.
Oct 2016 - Nobel to Bob Dylan
American lyricist, singer and writer Bob Dylan was given the 2016 Literature Nobel Prize for his over five decades of work in popular music industry. Early songs such as “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “The Times They Are a-Changin’” became anthems for the American civil rights and anti-war movements.