In a world where marketing is all about communicating the essence of the product and making sure its ostentatiousness makes its presence felt, we’ve had more than 50 years of an indigenous corporation using sardonicism, partial imprecation and a tinge of critique to reflect what transcends beyond the product it markets – our lives. With an astonishing inerrancy, Amul has tried to capture and with all respects has succeeded in capturing, all that concerns our lives and our future. When Mr. Sylvester DaCunha would have been conferred this rather preposterous responsibility of exuding the core values of a burgeoning brand not only to market it but to strike a chord amongst the masses, not a lot including ostensibly Mr DaCunha himself wouldn’t have trusted in the veracity of the proposition. However what has ensued is something that is a little too befuddling to ignore.
Steve Jobs once said in his resplendent and eloquent manner that marketing is not about selling your product, it’s about selling the core value that it manifests and it’s about fostering that value in everything that goes around the product. Marketing 3.0 is just that, and Amul’s marketing strategy is a rather impregnable fortress in that realm. With its first advertisements in Bombay of the 60’s where it tried to introduce the cuddly Amul moppet girl, to the recent caricature on Phailin storms, Amul has never lost hold of what it always wanted to communicate and hence associate with its product – pristine unhindered joy. In fact what symbolizes the ubiquitous bliss and mischief that has inexorably vested itself in the Amul baby’s whims is that Amul wants you to have that same joy once you have a toast with Amul Butter.
One would ask what’s so boisterous about promoting a value in an ingenious manner, but there’s much more to it than just promulgating your values. It’s about identifying the plights of the public, it’s about taking note of their inveterate fantasies, it’s about recognizing their urge to follow the vogue and it’s about their countless hopes which they continue to carry despite all the despondence that surrounds them. One may wonder that even after the world going tech savvy and with a city like Mumbai being another step ahead in that regard, why is it that even Cyrus Brocha, the great comedian himself waits to see the latest Amul moppet hoarding put near his place. Basically Amul has knowingly or unknowingly become a rather integrated part of our conscience. Its most conspicuous brand association is the Amul girl but what makes us recall that Amul girl is how she is close to us and how she too sees everyday and every affair like we do. The best way to take your offering to a human is to make your product have the humanness. I guess Amul recognized that 5 decades before the argot of Marketing 3.0 became prevalent.
More than a social commentary or telling the tale of a nation as it progressed from being a land of snake charmers to a land of IT engineers, Amul has captured the most defining moments and has replayed them in front of us just because it wanted us to take cognizance of them as we go and it wanted us to know that its all seeing eye is witnessing everything. Where it strikes us was not how dexterous was the person who put it up but how closely the depiction concurs with our undeterred emotion or take on something. A commendable thing about Amul’s strategy is that it never casted any aspersions or launched any attacks. It simply went on doing what it was best at- telling Indian people their own story in a way they liked. Tht literally did it for Amul and that’s the reason why Amitabh Bachchan stores a memorabilia of all Amul ads that featured him.
Be it the Bofors scandal of 90’s when it came out with a fickle of imagination quoting it as “Utterly Boforly Swedilicious” to capturing the trend of the modern times – Twitter with “Utterly Twitterly Delcious”, Amul has never tried to merely incorporate the subject in its witty tagline but has tried to inculcate the very peak of human thought and feeling into what is supposedly its ultimate way of serving it in front of the people to whom it belongs. With time, Amul became so very connected to its audiences and its consumers that it was inadvertently going to be a champion in its arena. They say when you exceed the expectations of your customers, they pay back more generously. Amul’s story has been a testimony to that. It’s Amul’s human connection that made it the Rs. 13000+ Cr brand that it is today. Maybe the underlying success is in the fact that Amul had its very roots in egalitarianism – helping the dairy farmers realize the worth of their produce.
One very indelible thing about Amul’s story is that it has never really tried to assert its presence through any means. It simply continued doing its quintessential stuff in its characteristic nonchalant manner. When the crowds having witnessed that Amul too feels the way they do and with Amul having used the skills in its quiver to present its feelings in a more meticulous way, what eventually came out was a rare combination of value and emotion. Value lied in the fact that Amul is providing you the best in class products and emotion lied in the fact that Amul pays heed to what you do in your lives and what you’re subjected to as you do your thing. Amul’s hoardings became a hand on your shoulder, your usual companion who would help you unknowingly acquire that aplomb that you are part of a story, and a big one indeed!
What drives Amul’s 50 year old strategy and makes it so very successful even today is that besides having retained the original concept, it has come up with more shrewd ways of manifesting humanness in its ads. They’ve shown corrupt prisoners spending time in jails in such an innocuous manner that even the politicians themselves would have liked it. The strategy over the years has been to tap into the prime drivers of current human thought and then inveighing any elements that ought to be vilified. In fact terrorism has been one thing that has made the smile from the polka dotted frog girl disappear and has made her groan on the predicament of countless innocent people. There is an element to all this. Perhaps the team that makes these hoardings, let’s all the bounds of thought go loose and allow its own thoughts to blend into their message, thereby ensuring that human values become an indispensible part of their art. Ultimately they are not promoting a product or a concept, but they are promoting a human life and are serving a product that they know would make it better.
Given the prudence of Amul’s products, they never really needed to spend massively on advertising, but the goodwill that came with Amul’s ads was not going to let go of its consumers’ minds when they went for Amul. Amul soon became a symbol of purity and joy and this was largely because of how their advertisements depicted their mindset. It’s exorbitantly difficult for an organization to take its values to their consumers and once an organization does that, it may even get a 10X return. But Amul, in its own way, realized this with such an ease that it never had to think of any other advertising campaign. Amul not only churned out a brand of dairy products, it offered its customers a means of joy, and in lives subject to a doddering paucity of joy, it was important to have something as Amul.
An organization has to go beyond its product or its core offering. It has to identify its value proposition and then see how it helps a human being in the way he/she lives their lives. It’s about having a panache for not only making your product’s packaging adorning it’s usps, but it’s about your product genuinely representing a value or an agglomeration which would eventually make the customers feel better after having it that they did before. In a scenario marked by cut-throat competition, an organization should strive to make their products come alive. It’s not as much about advertising or positioning, it’s about the authenticity of your product’s true value delivery. And with time, the considerations move beyond the mere products, and they move to the brand’s existence as a whole. A brand with an extensive product line should not be identified by its constituent products but should be associated with the first thought that comes to our minds when we think of it. As brands evolve with the times, so do the values associated with them. However, ethos and credos remain the same. A brand should know that its roots are what defined and provided the jurisprudence for its very existence. A brand should also realize that it was built to satiate a human need. However, most brands loose track and begin envisaging this business need as an expansion opportunity. Basically that need should be viewed simply as a lacuna which got filled when your brand came in and now it’s your brand’s responsibility to make sure that no more lacunas arise.
[The article has been written by Tushar Kumar Singh. He is presently pursuing his MBA from JBIMS, Mumbai.][/sociallocker]