A brand that has been discussed time and again, and has been talked about by more than 3 generations. A company that relies only on a single theme behind its advertisements, for 39 Years continuously? A Theme that has one of the highest brand recalls ever? An effort that has been internationally appreciated for its consistency, wits and innovation…
A brand .. the utterly butterly delicious… which, in true sense, is an Adman’s creation!
It might sound clichéd at the onset, but I wont be talking about Amul, per se (though that’s an interesting case study in itself), but more so, the Admen and the Agency behind this creation. What has been the history behind this revolution? An epiphany or a market research? A creative big bang, or an innovative insight? Who are the drivers of this moppet? What is the Advertising Strategy of the agency? Let me seek some answers in this Ps than frame questions….

Reiterating the Amul (Anand Milk Union Limited) story would be a redundant effort, since it is mostly covered by the company itself, but it is a “must read” . Picture this:

In 1969, when the city first saw the beginning of the Hare Rama Hare Krishna movement, Sylvester daCunha, Mohammad Khan and Usha Bandarkar, then the creative team working on the Amul account came up with a clincher — ‘Hurry Amul, Hurry Hurry’. Bombay reacted to the ad with a fervour that was almost as devout as the Iskon fever.

What I intend to cover is – Campaign History, A description of the agency (Da Cunha) and the people behind the campaign, the Advertising Strategy behind this campaign, and finally, cream the article with some “good stuff” 😉

Who and how was the “moppet” created?
Ever wondered what is written on the right side of each topical that we see? “da Cunha” and some numbers…
According to a special report by Indiantelevision.com on Amul in Sep 03, the Amul butter campaign was launched in 1966 by Advertising and Sales Promotion Company (ASP). Kurian Kurian the then Group Head at ASP was in charge of the account. The account moved to da Cunha Communications later which was founded by Sylvester da Cunha.

And it is this advertising agency, DA CUNHA Communications, that has been handling the account of Amul ever since, for the past 39 years.
Currently headed by Rahul da Cunha, 42-year old son of Sylvester, and the then manager at ASP
So what is Da Cunha all about?
Surprisingly, the agency does not have a website of its own (or it has reserved its public identity), but could collate little data on it from different sources.
Agencyfaqs.com has not updated the details of the agency, since the the email address dacunha@bom3.vsnl.net.in seems to be pretty outdated.

But, iCom has listed the particulars of the agency, that seem to be original.
Agency (Name) : daCunha Communications
Address : Elysium Mansion, Walton Road 4th Floor Mumbai Maharashtra 400 001
Member Since : 1982
Staff : 50
Telephone : 91-22-2832243
Email : dacunha@vsnl.com

The agency is not too keen in revealing its identity, since earlier attempts have not been successful either. According to Sylvester, the person who created the person who created the round-eyed, chubby-cheeked Amul moppet, lurking around in each of the hoardings was the ad firm’s Art Director, Mr Eustace Fernandez. They decided that they needed a girl who would worm her way into a housewife’s heart. “And who better than a little girl?” said Sylvester. Thus, the Amul Moppet was born. It was initially created in response to the buttergirl used by rival dairy firm Polson to endorse its products., with the exception that this one was sexy, village belle, clothed in a tantalising choli all but covering her upper regions.
The Firsts: Date – Summer of 1967, Place – A Charni Road billboard in Mumbai
Event – premiere for one of Indian advertising’s most deliciously funny creations that introduced the concept of consumer humour or serious things spoken in jest.
The utterly butterly Amul girl was born, and she has not grown an inch since.

Sylvester daCunha’s magic had worked very soon after the hoarding came up, all the best commercially exploitable sites were splashed with the new moppet on a horse. The punch line was, “Throughbread, utterly butterly delicious Amul“. It was everywhere on lamp kiosks, bus shelters, hoardings, everywhere one could see. The idea had clicked and the boring butter had acquired a new image, a new place in everyone’s hearts. The campaign was a success and the response phenomenal, recalls Rahul daCunha. Initially, for a year the girl made normal, witty statements. In 1967, the campaign kicked off, for more mileage, by changing to a more topical interest.

I am not sure of this, but as far as I know, the Amul Butter account was first handled by FCB Ulka, and then given to daCunha in 1966., as a study shows. The table gives the accounts of Amul, that are being handled by different ad agencies. I have written an e-mail to Da Cunha for the confirmation. Will update the entry if and when I get a response.

So who are the “men of honor” flirting with the moppet?
Sylvester was with ASP Advertising when the Amul campaign first took off and later when he set up his own firm, the client moved with him. He recruited talents like Bharat Dabholkar. Who had been with Amul creations for 15 years, but later on, moved to theatre and “other things”. Cleped as the undisputed king of satire and having excelled in Advertising, television and theatre, in an interview with Indiantelevision.com, Bharat admits that Amul gave him more popularity : “I was known more for the Amul butter ads.”
Even Kunal Vijayakar, a popular face on television and theatre was at one time, a creative director DaCunha Communications.

Today it is 42-year old Rahul da Cunha and another independent advertising consultant – Manish Jhaveri who are the creative inspirations behind these ads. They conceive and create the AMUL advertisements that you see today, while, Jayant Rane is the artist.
Rahul, the famous writer of popular play Class of 84, and part of the the hi-fi society of Mumbai, confesses that he lives a double life! Advertising by day and theatre by night. He is part of family of traditional advertisers – the Da Cunhas.
Search for Da Cunha on Google and you would find loads and loads of Tristan Da Cunhas and others. Incidentally, barring Mr. Tristan, all the others are related !
The Family has been discussed in a goa journal text, as well as in Times of India almost 2 years back
A snapshot:Hailing from Goa and descendants of Saraswat Brahmins (they were forced to convert to Catholicism in the 16th century by the Portuguese colonisers), the present crop of da Cunhas has won many plaudits in the world of media. Mr. Gerson da Cunha a historian and his younger brother Sylvester, were at one time, head of Lintas and ASP, respectively.
Gerson is famous for his Dalda ad and for recruiting talents like Alyque Padamsee and Shyam Benegal. Similarly, Sylvester’s claim to fame includes the immortal Amul campaign.Rahul, Sylvester’s son, and his 37-year-old wife Radhika, both dabble in theatre as well. Radhika started her career in advertising as a copywriter.

Thats about the who’s who of Da Cunha and History behind this historic campaign. Next up, Advertising Strategy and the Credentials of the agency.
Look up ! 🙂

10 Responses

  1. hey then only amul butter is handled by da cunha….what abt others…i mean their corporate,milk,cheese……..??
    soo now butter is only with da cunha?????

  2. Hi,

    I have been trying to look for information on the Da Cunha gang and could not locate their website. Your one blog post gave me everything I need for my meeting this afternoon.

    Thanks for putting this together.

  3. Hi

    This article has helped me in preparing my presentation on Individual Vs. Organization.
    I can use this information successfully to support my viewpoint.

    I would like to know more about Mr. Bharat Dabholkar.

  4. For years every time an event of local , national or global importance occurred a whole generation of amul butter moppet ad fans craned our necks to see the amul butter take on it. I am sure that the ad agenc(ies) involved have enough material on their hands to publish a coffee table book filled with the ads. If only they realized that the book will sell like … ummm amul butter…. because a great deal of history (including funny events) is associated with the memories of the almost weekly/ fortnightly billboard changes. -atindra s

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