This is a campaign that turned around the fortunes of the egg industry
In 1981, a big crisis hit the egg industry. Traders decide the price of eggs. They did not factor in the actual cost of production. Since they drove the market, they used to buy the eggs at low prices.
When the prices were high, they would not buy from the poultries making it a double whammy. The pricing of eggs was therefore controlled; eggs were to be purchased at a low cost and sold at higher prices. Neither the farmer nor the customer benefited.
In the late 70s, input costs increased dramatically, and 40% of the poultries shut down. The survival of the egg industry was threatened. Dr B.V. Rao, the founder of Venkateshwara Hatcheries Limited, believed that like Operation Flood, the fortunes of the industry could change. He formed the National Egg Co-ordination Committee (NECC) and brought thousands of farmers under its umbrella.
Dr. BV Rao then approached Mohammed Khan at Enterprise. Enterprise was the advertising agency for Venky’s, which was Dr Rao’s private enterprise. The story has it that when Enterprise released the first ad for Venky’s chicken, the response was so good that they had to stop all other planned advertisements because the chicken was all sold out! Obviously, Dr Rao had the utmost confidence in Mohammed and Enterprise.
The call to stop the advertising for Venky’s and to work on the advertising for NECC all happened on the same day too!
The objective was to promote all-year consumption of eggs and increase demand, thereby supporting poultries.
From a consumer perspective, there were many issues:
a) People did not know about the nutritional value. They knew it had a lot of protein, but they didn’t know about vitamins, minerals, micronutrients, and other things.
b) Was labelled as non-vegetarian.
c) Eggs were monotonous, lacking in variety, and limited to boiled, fried, and omelettes.
d) It was considered a winter product, so consumption dropped in the summer.
e) Many believed that they were giving their families balanced meals, so there was no need for eggs.
The dramatis personae from Enterprise were
1. Mohammed Khan: Creative Director, and initiator of the creative work on the campaign
2. M Raghunath, Account Management Head
3. Anand Halve, Account Planner. As Rajan Nair says, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he actually pioneered this role, which I had never heard of. Only Raghu could explain to me what Andy was supposed to do: plan how the brand should grow and become a leader over a period of, say, five years. In other words, be the ‘psychohistorian’ and see into the future (Asimov created this revolutionary science of psychohistory in the Foundation series). He was a medical school dropout and a genius.”
4. Rajan Nair, Copy Chief
5. Madhukar Doiphode, Art Director
The Enterprise team worked on problems and overcame them with a three-pronged campaign.
1) Educational print campaign, talking about the nutritional qualities of eggs, thereby encouraging people to add eggs. For example, an oval egg with the line – The Best Square Meal in the World?
2) Showcased wide varieties of tasty egg dishes like egg chaat, biryani, kofta etc.
3) Focused on groups with higher nutritional needs, such as growing children, women who were pregnant or nursing, and mothers.
It was Madhukar Doiphode who created the NECC logo (in his previous assignment, he had also created the famous Fevicol logo of two elephants trying to pull apart a pair of vacuum cups).
The original ‘Eggsperiment’ line was written by Mohammed. He was the engine that pulled this whole train along, whistling all the way! That was one fork of the ‘eggs are tasty’ campaign. Once that idea was in place, it was Rajan Nair who wrote an “eggsperiment” type of ad almost every week for several weeks. He wrote almost all the other ads in the launch campaign which tackled the “educational-nutritional” part.
Perhaps one of the most interesting ads was the “Egg as Veg” ad. Rajan remembers the ideation vividly: “This came as a client request, I think. Anyway, Raghu briefed me and Mohammed. We sat and chatted for a while after Raghu left. The conflict between reality and belief of whether eggs are vegetarian or non-vegetarian is actually very vivid in the sense that is milk veg or non veg? Most people would say “veg.” So if an egg is unfertilized and produced almost automatically by the hen, like a plant producing fruit regularly, what’s wrong with calling an egg a vegetarian item.”
In fact, Rajan did a little research, and found that even Mahatma Gandhi had said that unfertilized eggs are vegetarian, but he didn’t push the idea forward too much. Also, some people referred to unfertilized eggs as “Ram Laddoo.”
So Rajan cracked the ad (pardon the pun) in all of 5 minutes. The visual showed a pair of fried eggs, sunny side up, and the headline simply said, “Introducing a very exciting new vegetable.”
The body copy extolled the virtues and nutritional values. It didn’t talk about Gandhi or Ram Laddoo. However, within a few days of the advertisement being released, there were very vociferous protests from many Gujarati and Jain communities, and the client back-peddled rapidly. They had to pull out the ads. And they decided to pretend that nothing like this ever happened!
The slogan “Sunday ho ya Monday, roz khao ande” was coined by Andy, but it came from two thoughts: Mohammed’s original line, which was used in all the English ads “Have you had an egg today?”, and the ‘Aana meri jaan, meri jaan…” The Hindi film song from the film Shehnai, 1947, by music director and male singer C Ramchandra.
“Aana meri jaan meri jaan Sunday ke Sunday”
The recurring press campaign was a superhit. Credits to Rajan, who wrote most of the headlines; and Madhukar Doiphode, who directed the photography of the egg table-top shots, the food shots, and did all the layouts, too. Big credit to Swapan Mukherjee, the world’s best food photographer (according to Rajan).
Although the campaign concentrated on press, television came up as an important requirement.
Mohammad, Rajan, and Rashmi Lamba (who had joined as Model Coordinator and Production Assistant) were brainstorming in the room. Mohammed suddenly started humming and mouthing bits and pieces of the song, “Aana Meri Jaan Sunday Ke Sunday…” . It was a song Rajan had heard before and it struck a chord, so he started humming too. He said, “Mohammed, let me get hold of the song, and Rashmi and I will work out the film in a day or two and show you.” Mohammed was so excited and agreed wholeheartedly.
Rashmi used her contacts and found the original clipping in some studio’s Betamax tape. Rajan & Rashmi went over and watched it and he wrote down the lyrics.
Then Rajan and Rashmi returned to the office, and they spent the next day and a half writing out the script. They kept it simple, using montages of children, birthday parties, family dinners, etc. They used the beginning of the song only. Rajan thinks that Kailash Surendranath produced the film (needs to be confirmed).
It became a super hit, and people were humming it all around.
The Deven Patel version of the jingle came much later after Rajan had left Enterprise, and that too became a big hit.
For Rajan, even today, what causes a nice warm glow to spread inside whenever he thinks of this campaign—over and above the fun of working on it and winning lots of awards—is this incident:
“In those days when I was elbow deep in creating the campaign, my wife and I used to take the BEST bus from home in I C Colony to Borivili railway station at 8.15 am, and then proceed by train, my wife to her office in Flora Fountain, and I to Bombay Central, and onwards by bus to Worli, to Enterprise.
One Monday morning, we stood in the queue waiting for the bus. The lady in front of me was chatting to her friend standing next to her, “Arre, you saw that egg korma recipe advertisement which came in yesterday’s paper? I made it, man! Ya, ya, superb it turned out. My hubby no, he just gobbled it up man, licking his fingers!” Or words to that effect, but the excitement in her voice is still fresh in my mind.
I nudged my wife, who had heard this little conversation, and we smiled. My day was made even though it had just started.”
No award beats this!
A big thanks to Rajan Nair who took me through the making of the advertisement