Recently and after a long time, the Air India Maharajah leapt out at me from an ad in the newspaper, which got me a bit nostalgic and made me take a peek in the rear view mirror.
The Magic Of The Maharajah.
Time was when one spotted the AI mascot ever so often, in newspapers, splashed on hoardings, etc and loved him more and more. Belief had it that he was the brainchild of a genius, Bobby Kooka, though I am not too sure. Over the years, the pulling power of the mascot got questioned. I recall him at one time, on a flying/magic carpet, which the authorities pulled from under his feet, so to speak. It was also felt that he was too indianised and did not attract international audiences, so I think his posture/stance or some such element, got tweaked. And the process of tweaking his characteristics (and giving him a make-over!) went on, reducing his potency! I think there was also a plan to withdraw him completely, but luckily common sense prevailed. The airline management retained him but instead fiddled around with the logo, brought in an international agency, had a huge launch of the new logo, at an enormous cost of course – some Centaur or some such element – don’t quite remember. But the magic of the Maharajah luckily outlived it all. And the irony of it, in the same newspaper, that I read, I glanced at an article mentioning about a loss of approx Rs.30,000 crores incurred by the Airline! Sacrifice the Maharajah and red with turn to black.
My mind also rolls back to the cute and beautiful Amul girl, attributed to Eustace Fernandes/Sylvestor DCunha (?). What a work of pure genius! Luckily the good old Dr. Verghese Kurien, saw sense in not tweaking the lovely mascot, who has retained her charm over the years! (Wondering why they did not make her younger, to appeal to the millennial, or some such crap!) Of course, ad agency Dcunha Communications, also deserves credit for not altering the mascot and in fact retaining her charm over the years. Keeping the brand trendy and updated is a credible performance by the Agency. In both cases, I think the client has retained its Agency right through – JWT for Air India and Dcunha for Amul. I recall the words of one of my bosses – a client gets the agency it deserves!
Another super Mascot, if I may call it, would be the mischievous and evil Onida Devil, who literally created hell for competition, when the brand was launched. Created by the famous Gopi Kukde, the Devil was actually charming! Many fell in love with him! (Or is it her?) And then with times changing, the client changed the Agency. As done in almost every such case, the first thing the Agency does is fool around with logos, mascots, etc. Am told huge research costs were incurred that revealed that the Devil was not in sync with the new age customer. And the Devil was banished to hell! But that did not get the angels singing at the cash register either. So again, if I recall right, the Devil was either brought back or some attempt was made.
It’s a pity that not only as a nation, but globally, we are so dependent on disciplines like research, although at the best of times, it fails us! If a little more attention is given to the consumer’s heart and emotions, I think we would be much better off! Which brings me back to reality! I have depended more on my failing mind than research for this. But it did give me immense pleasure to turn back the pages.