Dairy brand Amul has established its brand presence with hoardings and posters featuring the 'Amul girl'. The chubby mascot in a polka-dotted dress is synonymous with brand Amul which is known to comment on current events. But the journey had its pitfalls and lessons, as the brain behind these adverts Rahul DaCunha recollects in a conversation with Vishal Manve.
If you think about certain Indian brands with strong campaigns, Amul definitely tops the chart with effective advertising and the answer behind this strong branding is Rahul DaCunha.
Amul adverts are usually subjected around issues that pique major public interest and these ads present a light-hearted banter. Let's take a look at how these campaigns are created and how Amul has become synonymous with strong opinions.
How are the topics selected for Amul advertisements?
There is no fixed methodology for selecting any topic. It is absolutely based on recall point and what the public is concerned about at any given point of time. For example, today, our major dilemma was choosing between Virat Kohli-Mahendra Singh dhoni (Asian games) or RJD and ministers walking out of Lalu Prasad Yadav's party.
When my father (Sylvester DaCunha) started the Amul adverts, it would take nearly a month to churn out content. Earlier, we would work slowly but with technology and a strong core team, our output has been instantaneous.
Is there any fixed methodology for topic selection?
I start my day sifting through major newspapers and electronic media. But, social media has become an integral part of topic selection and we go through hashtags to select topics that are trending.
Currently, young people vent their opinion on Twitter and Facebook which gives us a fair idea of what to select eventually.
Amul ad for Nancy Powell-Narendra Modi meeting
How do you decide about the stand that Amul takes in these campaings?
We try to understand public perception for any issue and use that as a tool to decide Amul's stand. It is never against the public sentiment of right and wrong. The campaigns are never malicious to anyone and we always try to oppose or support any issue in a light-hearted manner.
Can you explain the ideation to execution part of any Amul advertisement?
The first step is topic selection which is done using various platforms (Read Facebook, Twitter, Newspaper and television). Then, the core team including writer Manish Trivedi and cartoonist Jayant Rane decide on the presentation. Then, Manish comes up with the text while Jayant prepares the basic layout by 3 pm. After this, we put it together digitally and publish it on various platforms.
I have been working with my team since 1994, hence the co-ordination is flawless.
Does content differ online and offline on the basis of audiences?
Yes, we have three different types of content.
a. Solely social media: The content is for tech-savvy people who react instantly to the content.
b. Social media and Mumbai: The way Mumbai consumes news varies from other parts of the country. Hence, we have a combination of content that is only for Mumbai and social media platforms.
c. India+Social media+Mumbai: This content is generic and caters to every audience across states and verticals.
Is there any special campaign for Lok sabha polls?
Yes, we are planning something major for Lok Sabha polls. It can either be based on candidates or polls in general. For example, whenever IPL starts, rest assured that there will be Amul adverts for the entire tenure as there is constant tamasha with dropped catches and scams.
Similarly, the content depends on what happens during elections.
What are the topics that Amul stays away from?
We stay away from hardcore religion and religious topics as people are very sensitive about them. Our task is to send out a strong message in a light-hearted manner but people get offended when it comes to caste or religion. But something like bogus godmen will always be covered. We covered some godmen like Asaram Bapu in our adverts.
Also, we stay away from political parties which have religious ideologies but take up issues on bureaucracy and politics in general.
How do y'all decide which ads are exclusive to the web?
The way people express and think on web is different. When the recent Facebook buys WhatsApp story came out, I assumed that it would be web-centric. But was surprised at public reaction in general. There are certain topics that people who use social media more often expect from Amul.
For example, we took a stand on Obama, Philip Seymour's death and also Sherlock which was appreciated by online crowd but people offline were not bothered by them.
Amul ad when Philip Seymour passed away.
What is the wildest reaction you ever received on any advert?
With a larger chunk of population embracing social media, the reactions are instant. People were upset when we created an advert on Ishant Sharma (Citing his name as Sharam). Our Facebook page has all kinds of responses ranging from positive, supportive to downright offensive.
Like the Tarun Tejpal advert?
People are sensitive to certain topics and such topics should not be broached upon. When we made the Tarun Tejpal-Tehelka advert, it was against the accused, which was a criticism. But it started bothering people who did not take it lightly. Hence, we realised that rape, molestation are topics that should be stayed away from no matter what.
But it was interesting to receive support when we took a stand on Supreme court repealing article 377 and we opposed the judgement. Online audience is unpredictable and always has a strong opinion.
Amul ad when Tarun Tejpal was accused of raping his employee.
How is the budgeting for these advert campaigns?
The budget is not individually divided but for the entire cluster.
Which are your favourite Amul adverts?
Below are some of the Tweets from Amul's recent advertisements:
Amul Topical: Telangana Bill passed in Lok Sabha pic.twitter.com/WhmSamk7s2
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 20, 2014
Amul Topical : UPA’s farewell budget. pic.twitter.com/Q4H7sxhV6y
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 18, 2014
Amul Topical : UK floods wreak havoc. pic.twitter.com/V21KwTMSwL
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 19, 2014
Amul Topical : US Ambassador meets Gujarat CM. pic.twitter.com/4dvnCDPe2l
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 17, 2014
Amul Topical : Parliament peppered. pic.twitter.com/M4DZvYGwHe
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 14, 2014
Amul Topical : Publishers pulp book on Hinduism. pic.twitter.com/Uij1Tck2bU
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 13, 2014
Amul Topical : Mumbai’s new monorail. pic.twitter.com/PvuULxfGx2
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 7, 2014
Amul Topical : The loss of a great actor. pic.twitter.com/RhKdhoASX6
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 3, 2014
Amul Topical: Mark Zuckerberg buys Whatsapp pic.twitter.com/c8bC1lgXf3
— Amul.coop (@Amul_Coop) February 24, 2014