To increase acceptability among the older audiences, Amul along with Radeus did try to position chocolates as ‘meant for everyone’
Amul started chocolates in the early 1970s after the cocoa farmers from Kerala came to Varghese Kurien for help as cocoa prices had collapsed.
GCCMF (Amul) had chosen Radeus as their advertising partner for chocolates. Radeus was co-founded and led by K Kurian.
K Kurian functioned as more than just an advertising partner. In a burst of socialistic fervour, a minister had questioned the logic of Amul marketing luxury products like chocolates. K Kurian was a part of a high-powered delegation, representing the private sector, and he countered by saying that sugar & milk came from poor farmers. Many helped produce the chocolates. He spoke the language of politicians – vote banks. The minister reluctantly had to agree to K Kurian.
K Kurian was a believer in research. He had two modes – a paid research or an unpaid one, which he called Janata research.
Since Amul chocolates were operating with a tight budget, he decided to conduct the Janata research. He asked 40 of his team members to reach out to various customers to understand buying behaviour. Each person asked ten people, and they got feedback from 400 of them.
There was a very interesting insight. 99% of the customers did not buy chocolate for themselves. They purchased them for someone else. Someone else could be kids, wife, girlfriend, friends and so on. It was primarily seen as a gift.
Using this insight, K Kurian with Gulrayys Jameel and Vasanth Kumar (he also wrote Happy Days are Here Again with Thums Up), assisting him wrote the line ‘A gift for someone you love.’
The first set of advertising films had only kids because K Kurian played on home truths – Everyone loved kids, everyone has been kids before, and kids are lovable.
They then went on to do the next set of commercials that included adults – I am too old for….
Ashok Mundkur produced the films. The music was scored by P Vaidyanathan. The famous commercials covered a wide gamut of people across all age groups.
Gulrayys and K Kurian then needed to translate this to Hindi. They booked a studio with the intention they would complete it by the end of the day. But after 20 hours, they had not reached anywhere.
Both of them decided to take a break and go to Juhu Centaur to nurse a rum. Alcohol can also have a wonderful effect. With a few sips, the words rolled out of Gulrayys – Beeth Gaye Din Gudiyon Ke, Aaye Nahi Din Saree Ke, Tho Phir Kyon Na Kaye Amul Chocolate, Pyar ki Meethi Baat!
The beauty of the campaign was not the creatives alone. Media selection played a very important part. On Gulrayys’ suggestion, Dr Varghese Kurian had agreed to run ten seconders to increase the frequency of the commercials. On the print front, Gulrayys worked out a plan where the Amul Chocolates advertisements would take the half-page and that too, the lower half. But he had a condition – there could be no other ad on top, only editorial. Most publications agreed to it. The effect was that of a double spread!
A mix of great creatives and brilliant media planning made this campaign extremely successful. At that point, the market share of Amul Chocolates went from low double digits to 23%, much to the distress of Cadbury.
One of the films featured Neerja Bhanot who was killed in the 1986 hijacking of a Pan Am flight. She is the first civilian and the youngest person to receive the Ashok Chakra, India’s highest peacetime gallantry award.
Sincere thanks to Gulrayys Jameel for getting into all the details and making this post very interesting.