Vignettes from the history of Indian advertisements

Sep 18, 2014, 08:52 IST | Kanika Sharma

What: Arun Chaudhuri, an advertising professional, has been in the industry since the 1970s and has worked with organisations such as Clarion McCann Advertising Services, OBM, RK Swamy and now owns BRAND, a marketing research and creative services company.

The Poddar Textiles
Fabric ads used to include both — a man and a woman. To denote lifestyle, props were used, such as a motorcycle, a pair of binoculars, a plush office seat, a camera and so on. The Poddar Textiles ad includes all the masala. Most ads have fewer visual props.

Indian Advertising Laughter & Tears,
Indian Advertising Laughter & Tears, Arun Chaudhuri, Niyogi Books,  Rs 795.

Recently, he came out with a sequel titled, Indian Advertising Laughter & Tears that takes the history of advertising in India forward from where the book, Indian Advertising 1780 to 1950 had left it.

Indian ads
This ad epitomises one of the shortcomings of Indian ads, i.e. misinterpretation. Kids do not get headaches from watching circus!

Crafted by India’s first ad agency, Dattarams, the ad is similar to the campaign being run by Raymonds over the last few years.

The book looks at pivotal figures since the Rs 50s mentioning influential advertisements that typify each decade.

The Brylcreem advertisement
The Brylcreem advertisement is an early example of a testimonial using a celebrity. Tenzing Norgay, after climbing Mount Everest, became a national celebrity. Brylcreem was quick to capitalise on his stature.

How: “There is no fundamental book on the history of advertising in India,” says Chaudhuri, who has penned both the books expecting that “people who are doing advertising, MBAs and are pursuing marketing, may find it educating”, in his words.

Frank Simoes
The advertising legend Frank Simoes tries a bold experiment of breaking through the clutter — building an ad with a nude model. This ad appeared before Mudra was born that took over its advertising  as it was founded by the owners of Vimal.

The book is filled with advertisements of all these decades mapping the shifting focus and contours of the industry with time. “Advertising was looked at as a composite service that involved namely creative, media and public relations (PR) services,” reveals the Kolkata-based writer, continuing, “Post the Rs 90s, Hindustan Lever (HLL) started demanding stakes in the media.

This jewellery company
This jewellery company does not make a song and dance about its excellence of design. The message is direct. Visually unattractive, one must bear in mind that in the Rs 50s, the national emblem may not have been widely recognised. Pics Courtesy/Niyogi books

This led to the deconstruction of the three services where the creative and media aspects became separated. Prior to that, PR had already become a separate field.”

Gold Flake smoker
Here, the man of intellect, the Gold Flake smoker, is obviously more taken up by the smoke he inhales in a cabaret whereas the dancing girls do not seem to draw his attention. The Gold Flake tin in the foreground is prominent. The illustrator surely enjoyed drawing the visual.

Where: Available at Leading bookstores and online multi-brand websites.

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