The Amul Girl, an iconic advertising mascot in India, has captured the hearts of millions with her witty and satirical cartoons. On Wednesday, advertising great Sylvester daCunha, the man who created the unforgettable character with art director Eustace Fernandes, passed away, leaving behind an enduring legacy.
However, the history of the creation draws inspiration from an unexpected source. Amul’s classic mascot was actually in response to that of its rival, Polson, a dairy products maker that ruled the market before Amul entered the scene but no longer exists today.
Polson’s Dairy Legacy: The Polson dairy brand originated in the early 20th century. It was the first firm in India to commercialise milk and butter in India. During the first World War, the firm even supplied butter and coffee to British India and American troops.
Polson’s logo featured a young girl holding a butter churn, symbolising the essence of dairy craftsmanship. Polson soon became a household name, building a monopoly in India’s dairy market during that era.
Amul’s Rise to Prominence: Amul was established in 1946 as an initiative of the Kaira District Cooperative Milk Producers’ Union Limited in Gujarat, India with the blessings of Sardar Vallabhai Patel. It aimed to empower local farmers by providing them with a platform to market their milk collectively and break Polson’s monopoly over the market, which was hurting dairy farmers.
In 1966, Amul initiated its advertising campaign featuring a young girl, fondly known as the Amul Girl. This mischievous, chubby-cheeked mascot was created by renowned artist Fernandes, with the objective of captivating the audience’s attention through clever and topical cartoons. The character was a direct response to Polson’s popular mascot.
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Though consumers at first rejected Amul’s butter made from fresh because they were used to the taste of Polson’s sour cream-based butter, Amul made several changes to its products to improve its taste and eventually took over as the market leader. Polson eventually folded up its dairy business and disappeared from public consciousness.
However, the legacy of daCunha and Fernandes’ Amul Girl continues to tickle and amuse generation after generation.
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