What are Amul Topicals how did they create a legacy?

From India’s emergency era to the tribute to legendary radio announcer Ameen Sayani, Amul ads comment on current events and popular culture in a witty way.

By  Storyboard18Feb 24, 2024 6:42 AM
What are Amul Topicals how did they create a legacy?
The Amul girl's tale indeed merits the adulation it receives. Originating in the late 1960s, she has become an indelible part of Indian advertising history. (Image source: Moneycontrol)

Amul Topicals, also known simply as Amul Ads, are a series of advertisements and topical cartoons created by the Indian dairy cooperative, Amul. These ads have become an iconic part of Indian popular culture and are known for their wit, humor, and social commentary. The Amul girl's tale indeed merits the adulation it receives. Originating in the late 1960s, she has become an indelible part of Indian advertising history.

The history of Amul Topicals dates back to the 1960s when Sylvester daCunha, the managing director of the advertising agency Advertising and Sales Promotion (ASP), was tasked with creating a campaign for Amul butter. The goal was to increase the visibility of Amul butter in the Indian market, which was dominated by foreign brands at the time.

daCunha and his team came up with the idea of using topical advertisements that would comment on current events, news, and popular culture. These ads would feature the Amul girl, a chubby, cheerful little girl in a polka-dotted dress, enjoying bread with butter. The ads were accompanied by clever taglines that often incorporated wordplay and puns.

At the time of her creation, Amul faced stiff competition from Polson Butter, which also had its mascot—a cheerful, blonde girl spreading butter on bread. However, Amul eventually rose to dominance, surpassing Polson in the market.

daCunha, accompanied by illustrator Eustace Fernandes and Usha Katrak, among others, crafted the Butter Girl for Amul's campaign in 1966. The inaugural advertisement, featuring the word ‘Thoroughbread’ and Amul’s tagline ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’, debuted in March 1966, showcasing the Amul girl riding a horse.

Decades later, the iconic noseless girl with blue hair and a red polka-dot frock has become instantly recognizable. The Amul Topicals have covered a wide range of topics, including politics, sports, entertainment, and social issues. The ads are known for their quick response to current events, often appearing in newspapers just days after a particular event or news story has occurred.

The success of the Amul Topicals can be attributed to several factors. Firstly, they reflect the pulse of the nation, capturing the mood and sentiment of the Indian people. Secondly, they are humorous and clever, making them memorable and shareable. Finally, they often carry a subtle social or political message, making them more than just advertisements for butter.

The unparalleled wit of the advertising minds behind the campaign has been a constant presence in India for nearly five decades. Their creations have addressed various significant events, including:

The Indira Gandhi government's infamous Emergency

Congratulating the victor of the Kaun Banega Crorepati show in 2000

A jab at the Commonwealth Scam and Suresh Kalmadi

Advocating the boycott of Chinese-made products in 2020

Celebrating India’s new Parliament building in 2023

These topical ads have consistently reflected the pulse of the nation, offering commentary on politics, culture, and social issues while maintaining Amul’s brand identity and wit.

First Published on Feb 24, 2024 6:42 AM

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