The Toast Masters

How Amul’s hard-working admen turn headlines into hoardings

01 August 2012
An Amul billboard in Worli, Mumbai, from April 2012 riffs on the Indian Premier League cheerleaders.
COURTESY GLOBAL ADVERTISER
An Amul billboard in Worli, Mumbai, from April 2012 riffs on the Indian Premier League cheerleaders.
COURTESY GLOBAL ADVERTISER

ALL DAY LONG, Rahul daCunha has been fretting over Oscar Pistorius and the Higgs Boson. He was fretting over them at home in the morning; he fretted over them on the way to his office, in a Colaba bylane near the Taj Mahal hotel; he is fretting over them now, in his compact cabin at daCunha Communications, with its The Subject Was Roses poster and its iPad hooked up to a keyboard and mid-afternoon light filtering through the window blinds in a shade that can only be called butter yellow.

But the Higgs Boson, discovered just yesterday, has particularly flummoxed daCunha. “It stuns me. It has become such a big deal! It’s all over Twitter, all over Facebook,” he says. “It’s even in Bombay Times. Even the idiot brigade wants to read about the God particle!” This satisfies daCunha no end. “We long for this kind of thing. Otherwise, we run so much with Bollywood or sports or politics. It’s nice to have this as a change of pace.”

DaCunha is a square man—not in the sense of being uncool, but in the sense of having a square head and square shoulders, set atop a solid square torso. As the creative head of daCunha Communications, it does not frequently fall upon him to pay attention to cutting-edge particle physics. But what India pays attention to, daCunha pays attention to. Along with Manish Jhaveri and Jayant Rane—copywriter and artist respectively—daCunha creates and runs the advertising campaign for Amul butter, now in its 46th year of punning upon the daily news, of siphoning the piss right out of the Indian zeitgeist. During this week in early July, that zeitgeist happens to revolve around a mass-imparting elementary particle and a disabled South African athlete who qualified to run in the Olympics.

Samanth Subramaniam is a contributing editor at The Caravan and the India correspondent for The National. He is the author of This Divided Island: Stories from the Sri Lankan War, and Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast.

Keywords: advertising Samanth Subramanian Rahul daCunha Amul promotion
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