Iconic Ads: Dhara – The Kid & the Jalebi

Four elements – a child, a mother, food, and an emotional bond tying all of them together to get this successful film.

In the 80s, Dhara, launched by NDDB, became the largest selling edible oil brand thanks to the subsidies, but it had acquired an image of ration oil!

However, in the 90s, when subsidies were withdrawn, sales plummeted, as nobody wanted to pay more.

Mudra tried various creative routes like purity (Dhara, Dhara, Shudh Dhara), the largest selling, etc., but nothing worked.

Mudra was about to get fired.

Jagdish Acharya was brought on the account at this stage. He knew that Dhara needed an emotional hook to make people forget its cheap imagery.

First, he wrote a script about a young girl wanting to go on a school trip but was worried if her father would allow it. Dhara worked its charm and dad even offered a camera. Though NDDB liked it, they wanted one more.

Jagdish decided that four elements were needed: a child, a mother, food, and an emotional bond tying all of them together. A script was written where the kid ran away and came back home for Kachoris. It was run through Jagdish’s mom. She said, “it was nice, but the kid won’t come back for kachori since children don’t like spicy food and besides South Indians don’t relate to kachoris. Give the kid a jalebi”.

Namita Roy Ghose and Subir Chatterjee produced the film but not before it had a hiccup. The shortlisted 12-year-old kid could not emote. Hence they had to settle for 4-year-old Parzaan Dastur (the Sikh kid in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai), which was a blessing in disguise.

Surprises did not cease. Dr Kurien approved the longer edit and that TVC ran for 5 years.

Every year, a new script would be presented to Dr Kurien, but he would say ‘But then I won’t get to see this kid so let’s continue with this ad itself’.” Moreover, the objective had been met and people had forgotten Dhara’s history.

The simple storyline, innocence and bravado worked very well.

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