I love the chocolate éclair at this bakery in Gurgaon, actually it’s not the chocolate that takes me there, the vanilla filling inside reminds of me of ice-cream that, as a child, was my evening staple.
A friend asked me on Twitter last week about the first brand that I remembered being exposed to. This one is simple, Kwality ice-cream – not because of the product itself, but because of, what is still, my most cherished ad. memory.
Some of my ‘not-so-young-anymore’ contemporaries from India may remember that cute kid with an ice-lolly held to his cheek. In absence of a refrigerator at home then, that’s how I liked to test if drinking water being given to me was cold enough to meet my high standards – by putting the glass tumbler to my cheek.
Kwality is now Kwality Wall’s and I wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole – it’s like licking frozen vegetable oil.
This post is a journey back recalling memories of some brands that I grew up with but are now gone or may exist in a small way without my knowledge (one is set for revival, or so they say, and may even have already been launched in another part of the country). Am glad that many of my favourite brands are still around and I have stuck with them.
Here we go:
- Parlé Goblins:
Soft, chewy and in assorted fruity flavors, Goblins was not a chewing-gum, but neither was it a toffee, it was somewhere in-between. It came in a chocolate bar like pack, with individually wrapped rectangular tablets in assorted flavors.
Goblins disappeared from my life very early for reasons that I can only ascribe to its cost. Can’t remember how much it cost, but I recall it as somewhat expensive. I miss it practically everyday.
Ahead of its time, by two decades or so, I think it will do exceptionally well today. Personally, I would give anything to relish it just once again.
Parlé, of course had many other best-sellers in its portfolio and another one that’s gone too, I think – the milder mouth freshener variants from yesteryears the Mint and Rose. Poppins is still around and ‘Kismi’ remains alternate currency – shopkeepers would use Kismi as loose change during those years when coins were in short supply. Anyone remember those days?
- Lipton 21:
I was in my teens when Lipton made their first attempt? to enter the bottled beverage business in India and launched this sophisticated ginger drink.
I loved everything about 21, from its sexy green bottle that resembled a pint of beer and of course the not too sweet, mildly gingery taste of this crisp-crisp clear drink.
I was of course in the minority. In a market dominated by colas, the product bombed and soon disappeared.
How would it fare today when there are many more consumers looking at differentiated, evolved offerings? I so wish for Lipton to launch it again, even if as a limited edition, institutional offering that’s available only at select pubs and bars to save on marketing expenses.
Another drink that disappeared soon, but while it was around, saved me the constant bothering from my alcohol drinking friends, was Canada Dry – pour it into a beer glass and no one could tell the difference. For once I needn’t justify why I wasn’t drinking ‘anything’.
- FU’s/ Wings Jeans:
Much coarser material went into making these jeans. The cut and look was that of a pair, but the fabric? Was it denim? At all…?
Would they qualify as jeans today?
These were, however, amongst the first pairs of jeans I wore – much to the displeasure of one of my aunt’s, who accused my father of not looking after us well and buying us what she called “Cheap, cotton pants with patchy pockets”. Wonder what she would say to the torn, acid treated varieties today that are so keenly sought after by the youth today ;)
These brands are also about this perennial debate about “first mover advantage”. Nowhere today, they were ‘among the first’, if not the very first.
- Gold Spot:
Ramesh Chauhan, for me, is the undisputed king of marketing in India. So many innovations to his credit:
He took beverage bottles to 250 ml from 200 ml and then to 300 ml from 250, without warning,
leaving competition gasping for breath as bottles take time to manufacture and those crucial summer months of sale can make all the difference.
Remember Maha Cola? Thums Up 500 ml bottle – an India first. Bisleri, the first bottled water brand has, of course, become synonymous with the category.
Even before it became on of the most loved drinks for the youth, Gold Spot was romancing mothers by giving them ideas and recipes of exciting stuff that would delight their families and children – imagine Gold Spot ice-cubes.
Among the most memorable promotions I have seen and something that has in a subtle, sub-conscious way influenced my decision to be in this career, was the Gold Spot Jungle Book Promotion. Remember it?
Buy a bottle, under the crown you would find a character from Jungle Book; paste them in the scarp book to complete the series and exchange for fun Gold Spot merchandise; then exchange merchandise for bigger merchandise; there were twists and turn that kept the excitement alive, not a few months…but over two years from what I recall. Whew!
I am yet to experience anything that matches the excitement and buzz of that promotion. Follow this link and you will get an idea of the madness.
Later, they brand was to achieve – almost – cult following for it’s ‘Zing Thing’ positioning among both genders.
Bought by Coca Cola Company, killed, I am told it lives as the revised Fanta flavour today ;).
- Modern Bread:
I don’t think this was anyone’s favourite bread brand, Britannia was the undisputed premium brand, but given that bread was always in short-supply, we ended up eating whatever was available. I can’t help smile when I think about the possible look of disbelief on the faces of many of our younger readers, who have grown up with not just a dozen brands of breads but those too available in 23 variants – garlic, dalia, milk, multi-grain, organic and more than I care to remember :).
The bread itself was nice but what I remember most is the wax paper packing that had a beautiful print of blue and orange rhombuses, the unmistakable Modern Bread pack. Government owned then (now part of Hindustan Unilever’s kitty and about to be relaunched I believe), the advertising was terrible but had great recall “Mummy-mummy Modern Bread.” the young voice shrieked through the day on radio.
So much has changed for India since, but I miss the joys of that simple life. I remember that Hall’s Jam, the brand that my dad bought sometimes, particularly the pineapple variant, had real fruit bits and no added colour, but was considered second rate by us kids – rich colours of Kissan Jam were more luring. Today we crave for the ‘real’ thing and are willing to pay a premium for natural and organic.
On another note all together, will we see a move towards simpler things in other aspects of life too? Will we dump big cars and adopt the Nano? Should, what say?
Many of you may already have read this. Last year consumers got together, used Web 2.0 tools to request re-introduction of a Cadbury’s brand – Wispa. Would that work in India?
Which brands do you remember most? Add to the list.
The new India reminds me of my next post, been working on it: Innovation Paradigm.
Disclaimer: Views of authors are personal and do not represent the views of Blogworks, or any of its clients.