It was in 1966 when the country got a new hero. The "hero" did not belong to any film fraternity, but was an impish little girl in a polka-dot dress. The day the round eyed, chubby cheeked, winking girl was unveiled on the hoardings of Mumbai, commenting, "Give us this day our daily bread with Amul Butter", she immediately caught attention of everybody. Since then, Amul girl, also known as the Utterly, Butterly Girl, has commented on current affairs topics and even today, continues to win hearts with her tongue-in-cheek humour.
The Amul girl's comments started with food, and now she quips on contemporary events in sports, politics and films. Her comment is as relevant as it was then. Though the timeline took a major leap, be it politics, food or films but not the iconic girl ~ last year, she turned 50.
"You know the girl is everybody's daughter and everybody has accepted her in this way. The fact that she is a cartoon character, kind of makes her ageless. So in all these years, she is still the same sweet three dimensional kid," said Rahul deCunha, managing director and creative head of DaCunha Communications.
To mark the occasion, Amul launched the third edition of a coffee table book, which features the most popular advertisements as well as articles by different celebrities, including Amitabh Bachchan, Shashi Tharoor, Jug Suraiya, Indrajit Hazra, Jai Arjun Singh, Santosh Desai, Naresh Fernandes, Agnello Dias, Arnab Goswami and Karan Johar. The moppet was created by cartoonist Eustace Fernandes for the ad campaign designed by Sylvester daCunha. The book, titled 3.0 takes on 50 years of India's history, the highs and lows, through the eyes of the little Amul girl.
A few controversies
It is not that the little girl was only a subject of humour. At times, she had to face the wrath of many. "Thankfully, there were only two to three instances, when her ad created a furore," informed Rahul deCunha. During a prolonged airline strike, one of the Amul posters read, "Indian Airlines serves Amul butter ~ when it flies." The irate airlines demanded immediate removal of the ad, threatening to stop serving Amul butter on their planes. "So ultimately we discontinued the ad," informed Rahul. Then, there was the poster where the moppet was shown wearing a Gandhi cap. The high command came down heavily on that one. So the hoardings were wiped clean. In 2008, during IPL, the Amul girl was dressed in a short skirt like a cheer leader. It also didn't go well with her fans. "We got angry calls: 'What the hell is wrong with you? It's the Amul girl and why have you dressed her up in a short skirt?'," recalled deCunha. "The next day she was back in her polka dots and everybody was happy."
Interestingly, three heads work on the ads ~ writer Manish Javeri, cartoonist Jayant Rane and Rahul deCunha. Every morning, the research team discusses the topics that can be run the whole week. That is how, they come across a number of issues. They try to to give a balanced opinion as the little girl is the voice of India. At the same time, they avoid commenting on religion. The posters are hand painted ~ first it is painted then digitalised. These days, social media has become a major tool to promote these ads. Rahul informed, "Take the example of the Capital only, where they have only one billboard. Now, only those people, who are travelling via the route, will come across the poster. Therefore, social media is turning to be a big boon for the Amul girl."