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Butter burned: When Amul’s ads sparked controversy

From lawsuits to public outrage, a look at when branding became toast.

ht weekend Updated: Jun 15, 2019 18:11 IST
Rachel Lopez
Rachel Lopez
Hindustan Times
Butter,Advertising,Indian advertising
(Courtesy da Cunha Communications)

· In 1976, an Amul ad poked fun at the sterilisation drives conducted during the national Emergency. “We have always practised compulsory sterilisation,” says the Amul girl, holding up a plate of butter. Eyebrows were raised but no more.

· In the 1980s, members of the Shiv Sena threatened to vandalise the agency’s Mumbai office after they produced a billboard during Ganesh Chaturthi. The tagline: Ganpati Bappa More Ghya (Lord Ganpati, take more).

· Massive protests followed a 1982 billboard that responded to news of UK authorities conducting virginity tests on Indian women arriving at London’s airports. The tag: Indian virgin needs no urgin’. The agency issued another ad in apology: Urgin’ our virgin; accept our peace offerin’.

· During an Indian Airlines strike in the 1990s, Amul’s ad proclaimed, “Indian Airlines serves Amul butter – when it flies”. The airline was incensed and even threatened to stop doing so.

· When Jagmohan Dalmiya, chief of the Board of Control for Cricket in India, was accused of misusing funds in 2008, an Amul ad read: Dalmiya mein kuchh kala hai? Amul Maska khao, paisa nahin. He threatened to sue the brand for Rs 500 crore.

· Amid allegations of rape against magazine editor Tarun Tejpal in 2013, an Amul ad showed him in an elevator, the Amul Girl outside. The tagline: Kya se kya kho gaya. Amul—Tehelka macha de. There was a backlash. Many thought the ad was, well, in bad taste.

· British Airways was at the receiving end of Amul’s wit when, in 2015, they almost misplaced Sachin Tendulkar’s luggage. The billboard read British Errways. And the airline called the agency to express its displeasure.

First Published: Jun 15, 2019 18:00 IST