Iconic Ads: Charms – Spirit of Freedom

Mohammmed Khan gave Charms everything which the youth at that time aspired. The proposition and the aspiration

Cigarette companies in India were rigid and conservative, and they thought they knew it (all) –the pack must be like this, the crest must be like that, and so on. 

Vazir Sultan Tobacco gave Contract a new product-branding exercise in the early 1980s. It was a new brand, and the core target audience was the youth. The youth had hope, adopted fashion and had many aspirations.

In the 1970s and 80s, you were stylish if you wore jeans. If you wore a pair of imported jeans, especially from the USA, you had arrived. The pinnacle of all jeans brands was Levis Strauss. Jeans were synonymous with everything American – culture, music, McDonald etc. 

Leveraging this insight was ace creative guru Mohammed Khan, who had started Contract.

Mohammad gave a whole new feel to a cigarette packet. He captured the denim culture. The packaging was designed in a way, that the box looked as if it was covered with faded blue denim, with a red band around it. 

In those days, college students used to call Charminar -Charms, unlike the auto Rikshawallah’s Charminar plain cigarettes. Thus was born a new brand called Charms.

What’s more, Mohammad gave it a tagline that hit everyone’s heart – ‘Charms is the spirit of freedom, Charms is the way you are’

The youth in India loved it. Charms became a rage because it addressed what the youth felt deeply – the spirit of freedom, to be themselves. Many youths aspired for this. They tried to break out of the shackles of conservatism and have a taste of freedom, though only through a cigarette.

Socialization of smoking happened with Charms, many people especially from other age groups started gravitating to Charms both for the positioning and the experience.

It took a Hyderabadi to make another Hyderabadi hip! And when the erudite Hyderabadi started his own agency Enterprise, Charms came along!

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