A glass of milk. A drink that kids in the 1970s and 1980s remember gulping down as they rushed to school. A breakfast was incomplete without it. For some it was a quick quench-my-hunger drink in the evenings. Then came winds of change. In the post economic liberalization era of the 1990s, Indians were spoilt for choice with many alternatives like health drinks, juices and colas, jostling for shelf space. These soon became formidable competitors taking attention away from milk….and kids were especially drawn to explore these new tempting offerings.
With economic growth and privatization, came more job opportunities, competition and also stress. Being healthy and fit gained importance. So adults, especially in urban India, also needed to supplement their diet. Milk was an age-old choice.
Against this backdrop, there was a need felt by NDDB (National Dairy Development Board) to reposition milk as a preferred choice of drink, for all ages, for all seasons and for health or fun; a drink that was for all.
NDDB and Operation Flood
The visionary, Dr. Verghese Kurien, was the Founder Chairman of NDDB from 1965 to 1998. NDDB was founded with a vision to empower rural milk producers and transform milk production into an instrument of rural development and employment, nurturing the core values of cooperation and self-reliance.
Under the leadership of Dr. Kurien, Operation Flood was launched in 1970 to form a milk grid connecting milk producers and customers across the country. This was to increase milk production and regulate variations in prices. A win-win for milk producers and customers.
Sustaining the appeal of milk as a drink was vital in this effort.
Dr. Kurien’s brief to FCB Ulka was very simple - to create advertising that made milk relevant.
Amidst the competition of glitzy FMCG soft drink advertising, milk had to stand out. Shashi Sinha led the team, and Haresh Moorjani (who led the creative team of Gayatri Chauhan and Jovan John), struck upon an idea, novel at that time. They imagined milk like a trendy cool soft drink, and decided to use Hindi and English words. (“Hinglish” was emerging as a lingua franca amongst the hip crowd.)
The resulting lyrics written by Haresh, Gayatri and Jovan were an interesting mix of Hindi and English. The lines, often ending with English words, added spunk and fun, while they playfully conveyed the many benefits of milk to the audience, “Doodh, Doodh, Doodh, Doodh hai wonderful, pee sakte hai roz glassful.”
Leslie Lewis envisaged a reggae style music that had a fun beach feel, depicting happiness and energy. The repetition of Doodh Doodh was included to give it a contemporary hip feel. Kunal Ganjawala sang the jingle and gave it a cool vibe.
The “Piyo glassful doodh” ad film
Against a black and white backdrop that showcased milk the best, various models of all ages danced, exercised, and celebrated dahi-handi festival, even romanced over a glass of milk. Devan Khote directed the film and also worked on the backdrop with the Ulka team.
The ad film is fun to watch, with an energetic ensemble of people from all walks of life: children, mime artist, a policeman, a young couple, an office goer, a body builder, a dancing old couple, even a Kathakali dancer. The jingle plays on. Some models even flaunt a milk moustache giving the ad a very “real’ feel.
There is humour too. A glass of milk is dressed in sunglasses, holds an umbrella and adorns a woolen muffler to depict milk for all seasons. “Doodh hai must in every season, piyo doodh for healthy reason.”
A theme of national integration and unity runs through the ad as well, giving it a pan Indian feel.
The film ends with the logo of Operation Flood, shaped like a drop of milk, and a delightful sound of a cow “Moooing”. In an era where changing TV channels during ad breaks was common, children would often wait till the end for the “moo” sound.
Change in consumer perception of milk
The television commercial was a big hit. The jingle was memorable and easily hummable. The advertisement was able to change the perception of milk from boring to a fun, youthful and healthy drink, driving up milk consumption. Youngsters at that time would even sing the jingle spontaneously. Some even felt like reaching for a glass of milk right then as they saw the ad. Such was the pull.
As for Operation Flood, it went from strength to strength. And India has emerged as the largest producer of milk globally.
In the words of the ad, “Charo aur much gaya shor, Give me more, Give me more, Doodh Doodh Doodh”.
Subodh Tagare is an Associate Professor at IMT Nagpur, where he teaches courses on marketing. Prior to IMT, Subodh was the marketing director at American Power Conversion/ Schneider Electric for South Asia.
S Vejay Anand consults with organizations on business strategy and marketing. He has also been an entrepreneur in the food and pet care spaces. Earlier he was President at Coffee Day and COO at USPL.