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Top 10 Indian advertisements from the 90s

Updated: Mar 14, 2021

The ’90s was a lovely era.

Talking to others from the same time, there are so many things that were unique to this time.

The meme’s around ‘Only the 90’s kids will understand this’ are so relatable!


I recently came across this video, through a WhatsApp forward, where in a restaurant, the musicians were singing famous advertising jingles from the 90s.

And that video instantly brought a smile to my face.

Which made me think about the clear difference between Indian advertising back then and now.


Today, we have seen brands move away from the space of jingles.

But what can possibly be the reason behind the same?

Is it that the advertisers evolved over time and realized that other forms of advertising better?

No, not really.

But rather, this can be attributed to the evolution of the consumer mindset.

Consumers are now much more evolved, and a catchy jingle may still be fun, but may not necessarily lead to a sale.


Another reason is that the competition now has grown manifolds, and advertisement bombardment is now a reality.

So, in this blog post, we analyze the top 10 iconic Indian advertisements from the ’90s and try to create a relation with the changes in the advertising that the brand or category has adopted over the years!


I’m really excited to work on this piece, and I hope you are equally excited to read this one too!

So without further ado, let’s get started!

1. Cadbury Dairy Milk- Swad Zindagi Ka

Oh well, this iconic ad had to be the number one on the list.

Cadbury as a brand has grown so much since then, but this one still holds a special position in all our hearts!

Having worked at Ogilvy myself, and briefly interacting with Mr. Piyush Pandey, I have had the real-life experience of important this campaign was to the advertising fraternity as well as the brand Cadbury.

This was the first time, that the brand decided to target the adults with the line ‘Kuch khaas hai hum sabhi mein’

Did you know that the song was initially written in English and recorded as well?

Soon it was re-worked in a Hindi version which proved to be a much better call.

Today, the brand is experimenting with taglines like ‘Kuch Meetha Ho Jaye’ or ‘Shubh Aarambh’ which definitely gives us a hint on how the brand category has evolved.

It also portrays how the consumption of chocolate changed over the years in India.


2. Amul- Manthan Ad

Another iconic ad, not just the ad, even this song became quite popular over the years.

Amul has been this one brand, that never moved away from the thought of ‘Indian-ness’ and this has been reflected right from this advertisement to any of the recent commercials.

In the post-liberalization era, Indians were exposed to a lot of international brands.

While Amul was extremely confident of their product, they still faced stiff competition from other international brands.

The main aim behind this campaign was to instill the ‘Indianess and Swadeshi feel’ in the minds of the consumer.

The footage used for this commercial was from the movie Manthan-1976, which was based on India’s Milk cooperative movement.

Today, we see a lot of topical campaigns from Amul, and the brand has still maintained its relevancy.

Even today the tagline, Taste of India stands strong!


3. Fevikwik- Fishing Ad

Pidilite never disappoints with their commercials, be it for Fevicol or Fevi Kwik, even today.

This iconic ad from the 90’s even without a jingle was extremely memorable, and that itself speaks volumes about what the brand must have thought of while launching this campaign.

The idea was very simple and to the point.

I mean, think about it, the execution is flawless, you don’t need someone to explain the usage of the brand.

Today, the brand still operates in a humorous space and highlights the benefit of using the product.

4. Lifebuoy- Lifebuoy hai Jahan tandoorusti hai wahan

An iconic brand, as well as an iconic ad.

Most of us might remember this ad or rather remember this jingle.

Back in the day, we could literally see kids switching to the product, because well, it protects you against germs.

The advertising objective made use of sports as a metaphor for being healthy, and the brand supports you being healthy with the usage.

It also focussed on extreme cleanliness after you come in contact with mud and dirt.

Today, the brand’s positioning is still strong, but now the introduction of a ‘doctor’ is an added advantage.

And rather, the need of the hour for soaps like Lifebuoy.

It’s also a brand that stands for social causes.

Have you read about it’s iconic ‘Gondappa’ campaign? If not, you can read it here


5. MDH Masale

Oh boy! If someone randomly just mentions- ‘Asli Masale sach sach…’ all of us can complete the line.

That’s how strongly engrained this brand jingle has been.

This is the perfect example of what can happen when you are bombarded with the same jingle for years.

The brand still used this in the recent commercials as well.

However, spices as a category may not be as affected by the inclusion of a jingle.

But well, that’s debatable!


6. Pan Parag

Ok let’s be honest, if you see this commercial today, the reaction of Shammi Kapoor, after seeing the box of ‘Pan Parag’ can crack you up!

But back then, this commercial worked extremely well for the brand.

The ad worked very well in highlighting an anti-dowry angle, which was another plus point.

Today, however, the category operates very differently, given that consumers are well aware of the problems that can come through with the consumption.

7. Ujala- 4 boondon wala

I love this one!

Not just the jingle, but the overall execution.

As a kid, I may not have realized the actual thought behind this campaign, but now as someone who understands advertising, this is lovely.

First, you introduce a product for the first time in the market.

You do this, by talking about the problems that consumer face by using the other equivalent (Using “Neel” leaves behind spots on the clothes)

Second, you talk about the ease of using the product, just four drops, and you are done.

And third, it talks about sustenance, one bottle can wash clothes for a month!

Today, this category however isn’t as strong- since the need for the usage is somehow lost.

That doesn’t take away the fact, that back in the day, this advertising campaign was brilliantly executed!


8. Nima Rose

Another jingle that stays in your mind for hours after listening to it.

Don’t blame me if you keep humming the song even after reading this post.

Catchy tune, and the best part being that the brand name has been mentioned so well throughout that you are bound to remember it when visiting a Kirana.

The execution was also way ahead of its time, we see three pretty girls dressed up in a westernized saree attire and enjoying life.

Today, if the brand would introduce something similar, it may not work.

Consumers, especially when it comes to the soap category are much more informed, they would be moved by commercial-like Dove, where the milk content is mentioned as against having a ‘Rosy fragrance’.


9. Washing Powder Nirma

The list would be incomplete without this one.

Nirma was a game-changer back in the day, in its category.

And the jingle stuck on!

The basic idea behind the commercial was new, refreshed and white feels that the clothes get after using Nirma.

Also the line ‘Thoda Sa powder aur jhaag dher Sara’ clearly captures the consumer emotion back in the day.


10. Hamara Bajaj

Lastly, we talk about another brand that decided to highlight the ‘Indian-ness’ associated with it.

The song itself gives you this whole patriotic feeling, and the list of iconic advertisements from the ’90s is incomplete without this one.

Now it's important to understand why this commercial worked back then, that time two-wheelers were the only source of transport that a family could own, besides public transport, of course!

And the fact that owning a two-wheeler, brought with the much-needed pride in consumers was clearly highlighted here.

With international players soon entering the market, the Indian-ness feel helped the brand tremendously.

Today, the category of two-wheelers is more driven towards mechanical usage, and features, which of course becomes the need of the hour when there is tremendous competition.


Conclusion:

No denying that the 90s ads will always be special, but this blog post aimed to create a correlation and deepen our understanding of how advertising is evolving every year to match consumer needs.


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