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  • Writer's pictureMansee Mohta

A creative genius who transformed the Indian advertising realm. RIP.

The doyen of Indian advertising, Sylvester daCunha, of the Amul Girl campaign in 1966 fame, passed away on Tuesday 20th June 2023. His passing once again reminds us of the legacy the company created under the 'utterly butterly' brand campaign, one beloved by billions, laced with incomparable quick-wit. When you think of the ‘makkhan’, or butter, in the above bits of daily conversation, invariably only one brand would come to mind, Amul. And when you think of Amul, you picture a cute chubby girl in pigtails, the Amul girl. Advertising icon Sylvester daCunha, the man behind Amul's mascot who touched the daily lives of Indians with his signature Amul ads, utterly and butterly, has passed away but left a rich legacy that has become a part of our popular culture.

Amul girl: An utterly-butterly ‘meme’-led marketing legacy ahead of its time.

An unfettered legacy

Scripted in the late 60s, the Amul girl’s tale is one that deserves all the adulation showered on it. For Amul, the main competitor at the time of its birth was Polson Butter. It too had a mascot - a genial, blonde girl gleefully spreading butter across a slice of bread. In due time, Amul would eventually dominate, edging out the Pestonji Edulji Dalal-owned Polson.

The original brief was to create a mascot for Amul butter, positioned for children and mothers.

The late Sylvester daCunha, along with illustrator Eustace Fernandes and Usha Katrak, among others, created the Butter Girl for Amul’s campaign back in 1966. The first ad, with the word ‘Thoroughbread’ along with Amul’s slogan ‘Utterly Butterly Delicious’, first appeared in March 1966, with the Amul girl riding a horse.

Decades later, the iconic noseless girl with blue hair donning a red polka-dot frock can hardly go unidentified.

The nonpareil wit of the admen behind it has been a ubiquitous presence in India for nearly fifty years - be it during the Indira Gandhi government's infamous Emergency, congratulating the victor of Kaun Banega Crorepati show in 2000, the Commonwealth Scam jibe at Suresh Kalmadi, boycotting of Chinese-made products in 2020 or the celebration of India’s new Parliament building in 2023.

Amul girl cries on the death of the Legend.

Sylvester daCunha, your creation will be the North Star of branding forever. A true global Lovemark.

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