A commemorative day willy-nilly draws your attention to what it is meant to, and on this International Women’s Day on March 8, as I ponder about the women who have left an impression on me, surprisingly what comes to mind immediately is not a woman, but a cute little girl with chubby cheeks and big round eyes in a polka dot dress: the utterly butterly delicious, Amul mascot.
Ever since I first saw her decades ago, she caught my eye and rented a space in my head. She has graduated from being a tenant to the proud owner of some precious mental real estate. And I have absolutely no desire to evict this squatter. I love her.
She may be a girl, that too a brand mascot, but for me she is much more than that: she is a brand mascot that has stood the test of time when countless others have had their days of glory and faded. Apparently the Amul girl was born in the 1960s, and over the decades, her charm and appeal have only grown – clearly Father Time has been kind to her.
She first appeared on billboards and spoke only about Amul butter, for which she was the brand mascot. Gradually, she evolved into something of a social commentator, riding on the wave of topicality to comment on politics, news, sports, celebrities and other happenings. Her wry sense of humour, sometimes colloquial language, and a mix of languages helped her connect to people across socio-economic and geographic boundaries. She has moved with the times while remaining the original Amul girl in many ways.
Remember the ad which was a pun on increased sales tax in 1982 – it showed a stack of Amul butter packets with ‘sales stacks’ as the only copy (1) or the spin-off on the Hindi film Tiger Zinda Hai’s popular song, Swag se Swagat where the ad copy simply said ‘Swad se Swagat – Amul Har Tea Ghar Mei Zinda Hai’? When a turbulent 2020, which devasted economies and lives due to the outbreak of Coronavirus ended, the Amul mascot declared ‘Finally Twenty Twenty Twent, Happy 2021’. And now the Amul mascot is encouraging people to get vaccinated ‘Shot in the aam janta. Amul, Vax bhi Lo, Packs bhi Lo.(2)
As a brand mascot, she is iconic and resonates with a target audience which is as vast and diverse as India is.
As a representative of the female gender, she embodies qualities I would wish for every woman: an everlasting and timeless appeal that transcends age, cultures and boundaries; an innate intelligence to look beneath the glitter and the obvious for some empathetic truths; the courage to speak your mind, and the ability to move with the times while retaining your core characteristics.
At both levels the Amul girl embodies ideas and values that are food for thought for brand managers and women.
What Sylvester Da Cunha and team created is not just a mascot, but something that goes beyond that with an intangible appeal which many call the X factor, which propels one into the stratosphere of appeal and popularity.
So, a big hug to the Amul girl, and a Happy Women’s Day to you.
May your life be utterly, butterly delicious, in every way possible.
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