The Gujarat Co-operative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) introduced the blue-haired "Amul Girl" character a decade after the Amul Butter brand was born, with the tagline "Utterly butterly delicious". She continues to win hearts every day, and, in 2013, became the subject of a book entitled Amul’s India – India as viewed through the character’s eyes.
Trust with creative freedom
The "Amul Girl" was conceived in an agency called Advertising and Sales Promotions led by Sylvester daCunha, soon after it was appointed by Dr Verghese Kurien, head of GCMMF and father of India’s "White Revolution" – the world’s biggest dairy development programme. The first Amul billboard was created by daCunha and art director Eustace Fernandes. In 1969, daCunha Communications was formed and the account moved to the new agency.
Rahul daCunha – Sylvester’s son, who now runs the shop – is engaged in a lot more than the posters and print ads, but they remain the indelible symbol of Amul for a large part of India. What makes Amul and daCunha tick as partners?
"I don’t think any other agency gets the creative freedom that we have," he says. "There’s a sense of trust that Amul has in us. And they are hugely supportive. The agency is a strong custodian of the brand, and it’s across all the brands we handle for them."
Speaking at Goafest, the Indian ad industry’s annual jamboree, three years ago, RS Sodhi, managing director of GCMMF, said: "Amul sees creative only when consumers see it. Our agency has never taken approval before releasing our ads, nor have we asked for it. We’ve faced certain problems because of it, but we’ve faced these problems together."
Multiple agencies work with GCMMF today. But India’s "Amul Girl" has grown with the daCunhas while remaining young and vibrant, and stayed relevant by riding on the biggest headlines of the day. Whether it be Kim Kardashian’s denial of participation in the Indian version of Big Brother, or the Union Budget, or the Indian Premier League, the "Amul Girl", much like the rest of India, has a point of view.
And India laps it up.
(This article first appeared in the Campaign Global issue, also available at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity 2016. Read about more creative client-agency partnerships from across the world at CampaignLive.co.uk.)