Serial Bus

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Today, I saw lots of old Indian ads (eighties and nineties) on YouTube. I am not sure why nobody has not yet thought of this but if someone compiled them together, they would sell like hot-cakes. The compilation will be lapped up by us who get nostalgic about anything that reminds us of things like Doordarshan. Others, who did not live then, will buy them for the same reason I bought ‘Freedom at Midnight’.

I am listing below all those ads that were the staple of my childhood. I have tried to suggest their social premise. Please help me complete this list as I would not obviously remember all classic ads.

1. Surf – Lalitaji series

– A woman is a sari-wearing homemaker just like bulk of middle-class women in India. Runs the household budget and is very cost-conscious. To sell a more expensive Surf, the ad must strike a chord and sell benefits. Alyque Padamsee at his best. Check this out.

2. Complan – Young Shahid and Ayesha Takia

– Emerging sense of equality between son and daughter in urban India. Again, targets mother as a homemaker. Click here.

3. Bajaj Bulb – ‘Jab mein chota bachcha tha..’

– Joint family and lack of good-quality lighting devices in India. Here. (old ad, anyone?)

4. Liril – The girl in the waterfall ad

– More relaxed social mores but the image of a girl in swimsuit was still very bold. Very aspirational for young women and a great fantasy for the men. Here.

5. Nirma – ‘Sabki Pasand Nirma’

– Value for money. Since clothes take precedence over clean clothes for impoverished masses, Nirma was the poor man’s Surf. Here. (old ad, anyone?)

6. Vicks Cough Drops – ‘Khich Khich Door Karo’

– Tacky animation but heart-warming concept featuring a very young Jayant Kriplani. Here.

7. Lijjat Papad – ‘Kurram Karram Papad’

– Focus on family as well as small-scale industries. Never understood why a rabbit puppet.

8. DD National Integration ads

– Celebrating culture and diversity. Socialistic overtones along with emphasis on economic independence.

‘Mile Sur Mera Tumhara’

‘Baje Sargam’

‘Ek Chidiya’

9. DD Family Planning ads (always aired after the Samachar) – Nirodh and Mala D ads

– Importance of better awareness for the success of government-sponsored development programs seeking to curb a high rate of population growth. Links anyone?

10. DD Social Message ads – about educating girls, National Literacy Mission

– Again, seeking to create social change by challenging superstition, inequality of gender and the need for literacy

‘Purab Se Surya Uga’

11. Bajaj – Hamara Bajaj ads

– By painting itself a symbol of a self-sufficient India, Bajaj was content to let Indians be wowed by scooters. Cars were still the stronghold of rich and famous.

12. Amul ads – including ‘Utterly Butterly delicious’, ‘Mero Gaam Katha Parey’ (Inspired by Shyam Benegal’s Manthan) and ‘Taste of India’

– Promises quality (despite being ‘made in India’) & evokes nationalistic pride during 80’s. Shifts to a theme of economic resurgence during 90’s. 

‘Mero Gaam Katha Parey’

‘Jari si Hunsi, Dular Jara sa’

13. Rasna – ‘I love you Rasna’

– With not many soda brands around, this promise of an economical cold drink that can be prepared at home, led many kids like me to to force our parents to get one. Here.

14. Maggi – ‘ Do minute ruk sakte hain’

– Again, an economical snack that captured the imagination of thousands of salivating children (and adults) with its promise of hassle-free, quick preparation. It became a life-saver for college-goers and campers. Old ad, anyone?

15. Dhara’s Jalebi ad

– An innocent close-knit world where a child sitting in railway station would be recognized by an elderly employee who lures the kid back to his home with promise of jalebi. Emphasis on taste. India had not yet been freaked out by health-consciousness. Here.

16. Maggi Ketchup – Pankaj Kapur and Javed Jaffery series

– Use of irreverent humor finally begins to strike a chord with Indians. Link, anyone? 

17. All Pepsi ads – starting with Remo F/Juhi and including Aamir/Aishwarya

– Recognizes the importance of youth as a market segment. Induces glamor and big production values into advertising. Links anyone?

18. All Coke ads – incl. ‘I am tomorrow’ and all ‘Thanda Matlab Coca Cola’ by Aamir

– Coke sought to establish a new identity for itself against Pepsi in India through the Tomorrow spot; Aamir’s (more recent) series was a trend-setter as it appealed to a wider (non-metro) audience and suggested a need to rise above brand clutter. Links anyone?

19. Cadbury ads – including the girl dancing into the cricket field

– New confidence and urban sensibility. The nation rises beyond sustenance – no need to feel guilty about small pleasures.

20. All Kamasutra print ads which we we wish made it to the video somehow

– Brought class to copulation, in public view. Indicated a growing liberal audience.

I am sure there are many more ads out there. Wish I could get more original videos.

Besides being a nostalgic khichdi for many of us, these ads are reflective of not just changes in production values but in social values as well. They are also a window into our collective past; their commercial success is an undeniable proof of our evolution as a people.


Written by serialbus

September 7, 2008 at 9:07 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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One Response

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  1. I completely enjoyed reading your post – thanks for sharing

    Payton Clark

    September 25, 2008 at 1:42 pm

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