Iconic Ads: 8 PM – Friendly Opposing Generals

It was a black and white ad devoid of oomph & glamour – all ingredients of most liquor advertising at that time

Rampur Distillery had renamed itself Radico Khaitan.

Radico’s advertising agency was Nexus Equity and they had commissioned Prasoon Pandey to do a script for Contessa Rum

Abhishek Khaitan, a scion of the family, was impressed with the following commercials – Kuch Khaas Hain from Cadbury, One Black Coffee from Ericsson and Fevi Kwik. He was told the common factor was Prasoon Pandey.

Prasoon had heard a story that at the Indo-Pak Border, many of the opposing soldiers become friends as they see each other every day. One day, one of them did not have matchsticks to light his cigarette. So he asked for them across the border, from where he got some.

He had also heard that Army men drink a lot of rum due to the climate they live in.
Around that time, India had also tested a missile and Pakistan did so in response. This was his contribution to calming things down.

After one month, Prasoon presented his script to Abhishek, and he was shocked. It was a black and white ad devoid of oomph & glamour – all ingredients of most liquor advertising at that time (liquor advertising was not banned at that time). Though he loved it, he was not sure.

Radico did not have a whisky brand of its own (it used to manufacture for other brands). It was Nexus Equity who created the 8 PM brand for Radico for its foray into the branded whisky market.

The team at Nexus Equity felt that the script/ idea for rum was better suited for 8 PM whisky instead. 8 PM was targeted at the premium segment and wanted to position itself as a brand for friendship and camaraderie. The brand was positioned as a Time for Friends and in this case, enemies became friends. (It helped that 8 PM whisky had a larger budget ).

The Rs 1.5 crore film was produced and presented to the senior management of Radico. It was met with silence as they did not understand a thing! Abhishek said “Meri Tho Phat Lee.”

But since they were in a hurry to run a commercial, they went ahead with it as they had no other choice.

For 5 days after the airing, Abhishek called his friends and relatives for their opinions, but none had seen it. And then suddenly he started getting calls congratulating him for the fantastic ad.

One needs to mention the great casting with Kamal Chopra and Manoj Pahwa.

It was 1999, and India was going through a patriotism high after the aftermath of the Kargil incursion and the cricket World Cup that year.

8 PM became the first brand to reach 1 million cases in a year.

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