Even in her 50s, the Amul Girl has far greater clout than any brand ambassador in India. And India's largest dairy organisation may soon cash in on that. Sohini Das reports.
As the country's largest dairy organisation, Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF) plans to launch merchandise featuring its unique mascot, the Amul Girl, experts feel that it is likely to be a tight-rope-walk for the federation. This is because the world of merchandising is entirely different from publishing popular topical advertisements.
Even at 50, the Amul Girl has far greater clout than any brand ambassador in India. Still wearing a polka-dotted frock, something which might be called a fashion disaster in today's world, the little moppet has stuck to her roots and at the same time remained relevant by commenting on current events.
Speaking on the sidelines of launching the book Amul India 3.0 in Delhi recently, R S Sodhi, managing director of GCMMF, said the federation was working on a plan to launch merchandise like key rings, fridge magnets, polka dot frocks, cups across the 8,000 Amul milk parlours across the country featuring the Amul Girl.
A senior official of the federation informed that there is no concrete business plan around this at the moment. Sodhi, however, has said that the Amul Girl campaign run for the last 50-years has huge credibility.
Rahul daCunha, managing director and creative head, daCunha Communications, the agency which not only created the Amul Girl but also has been running the campaign for all these decades, sounds confident too. "It is a huge brand with high recall value; merchandising should have been done some time back," he added.
But, as the Amul Girl moppet makes it beyond newspaper ads and hoardings into one's kitchen and living room, the task is likely to get uphill from here.
Brand expert and founder of Harish Bijoor Consults, Harish Bijoor said that the Amul Girl property exists as a unique mascot with longstanding value. "However, with the new generation, it needs to be refreshed. The problem with mascots is that they age. While they retain their original value, consumers who associate with these mascots tend to think that these mascots are actually older than we are," he said.
According to Bijoor, one way is that the Amul Girl merchandising has to be done in a traditional way, for a heritage set of items. "Essentially, it is a tough task, as you cannot leave the heritage behind, and at the same time you also need to remain relevant for the new generation," he said.
But, does the fact that the Amul Girl topical ads are very contemporary, not work in the mascot's favour? Bijoor disagreed. The topics, even the language can be contemporary he felt, but the girl (mascot) is not contemporary.
Another issue he identified with merchandising using the mascot is that it does not have any aspirational value attached to it. "Amul Parlours are not like Starbucks cafes selling Starbucks merchandise," he said. "With the Girl, there is a difference."