Kerala Publicity Bureau, the agency behind many catchy taglines, has turned 50 this year
In an age of snazzy graphics and front page spreads, it is hard to think of a time when advertisements were anything but colourful and glaring. It is of such an age that T.O. Philip talks about, a time when illustrators sketched models and copy writers sat for hours on end to get the perfect tagline. One of the founding members of the Kerala Publicity Bureau (KPB), which completed 50 years of operation last month, Philip is more than happy to tell a tale or two about the developments in advertising since 1964.
“We had no real idea about how to run a business in the beginning, but thanks to some divine help and many inspiring personalities, we held on and gained some respect. Those were days when classifieds ads on all editions for a 15 day run would cost only Rs.37.5!” says Philip.
Remembering the beginning
KPB, founded in 1964 by the late T.O. Kuriakose and his brother T.O. Philip, has gone on to become the first Indian Newspaper Society (INS) accredited agency in Kerala. It was when Kuriakose came to Kochi in 1967 and began operations in the city that the agency began getting more work. “I remember one of our earliest ads was for BCM College in Kottayam, but we started off in Kochi and got our first full page ad for the inauguration of the Malabar Hotel, which was part of a large campaign they were running at the time. By the time our branches in Kozhikode and Thiruvananthapuram started in 1977 and 1980 respectively, things became hectic,” reminisces Philip.
KPB went on to work with some of the biggest names in the State, and was responsible for creating symbols and taglines that have an iconic status today. Among these are the young boy who adorns the Bhima logo and the ‘mazha mazha kuda kuda’ tagline for the then St. George Umbrella Mart. They also conducted a full scale campaign for Hantex, one of the first of its kind.
However, Philip believes that advertising nowadays is less about creativity and more about pictures and designs. “In the old days there was more innovation. We had to rely on clever illustrations and catchphrases to get attention. Even our clients were more demanding and we used to sit for months coming up with ideas before we got an approval. Now with more editions and more technology it is quite different.”
The next generation
A few years after the demise of T.O. Kuriakose in 1988, it was the turn of the next generation to join the fold, and the KPB group underwent a transformation. Today the KPB Group consists of two separate entities, the Kerala Publicity Bureau in Kottayam, managed by Jaison Philip and Jebison Philip, the sons of T.O. Philip, and KPB Advertising in Kochi, run by Kuriakos Jos, son of T.O. Kuriakose.
Ask the new generation why they joined the family business, and Jebison attributes it to passion. “We used to spend time at the office even as kids, and used to observe the working process. So it was natural for us to join when we became old enough.” Jos adds that the KPB Group has moved with the times, adapting to new technologies and moving into the digital age. “New technologies don’t really change how we work; only the final output is different.”
The KPB group celebrated its 50 anniversary with an event in Kochi recently, and Jebison says they have no intention of slowing down. “At the moment we have over 300 clients and we are constantly looking to branch out and keep abreast with competition.” With many a memorable advertisement campaigns to its credit, KPB is relishing the competition. Their experience from the past and outlook towards the future is summed up quite aptly by Jos, “we like to refer to ourselves as being ‘50 years young’.”