Students pull out a brilliant collection of advertisements from the archives

Quiz time, folks!

“In the 1890s, who was ‘soap maker to ye king, for comely dames, brave squires, pretty little misses, and smart little masters?”

Clue: These days, children peer at their moms through the honey-coloured soap first thing in the morning.

Answer: Well, what else but the good ole Pears soap, whose legions of followers have sung its praises for more than a century.

Wonderfully creative

Taking a look at the print advertisements of Pears at Brand Expo 07, organised by EXE-XL, the UG Management Association of Dr. G R Damodaran College of Science, one could not help but marvel at how creative people have been.

In an ad, Mrs. Georgina declares daintily on ‘24 May 1887’ that “I am 50 today, but thanks to Pears soap, my complexion is only 17.”

Not just Pears, the advertisement history of 24 brands, including Lifebuoy soap, Pepsi, Coca Cola, the much-loved Cadbury’s, the long-dead Plymouth, Rolex, Kellogs and Gillette, were on display at the event.

Did you know Coca Cola was once prescribed as a medicine? It was available as a concentrate in a bottle that resembled a huge ink jar, and, sold only in medical shops!

And, Kellogs’ toasted corn flakes, labelled ‘the sweet heart of the corn’, was pegged as the perfect breakfast cereal that needed no preparation time. “Aw! Never mind the cream, Sis,” goes an early 1900 ad featuring a brother and sister stealing into the kitchen for a midnight snack.

The Pepsi stall was among the most well researched. The students had approached dealers in nearby States to ensure they had a sample of all the drinks and snacks available here (such as 7-up Lite).

Truly Indian

The Amul stall was everyone’s favourite. And, not just because it was the only stall devoted to an Indian brand. Years after they first appeared, Amul’s whacky ads still make you chuckle. Sample these: ‘Amul lagaana upar every slice’ (to commemorate the making of the Oscar-nominated Lagaan), ‘In all Holmes, Amul’s elementary, my dear’ (Sherlock Holmes, of course!), ‘One-day Mataram’ (on India winning the Titan Cup in 1996) and the rousing ‘VAT Lag Gayi’ (on the decision to implement VAT)!

In 1942, when Britain was in the grip of a milk shortage, someone released an ad showing how all the milk was being diverted to make milk chocolate. Cadbury’s put out a goodwill-generating ad saying how there is, “No more milk chocolate, but instead we collect, test, cool, and distribute the milk as part of liquid milk ration.”The Gillette stall attracted attention, and not just because a huge Rajni cut-out from Sivaji was placed strategically at the entrance. The team, led by Vignesh Raja, created their own ad (a student is about to be slapped by his father, who, on touching his clean shaven face, ends up patting his cheek).

Say cheers!

The stall of Budweiser Beer (launched in the country just last week) showcased all the lively ads put out by the company to get people to say cheers.

And, Nike’s ad that showed Michael Jordan defying gravity on court, crisply said: ’Michael Jordan-1; Newton-0’.

The judges, Dr. Nandagopal of PSG IM, M. Rangarajan of PSG CAS and Ashok Gupta, Creative Director, DNA Brand Essentials, graded the ads based on presentation, information and creativity.

Budweiser beer was found to be good in all three categories. The best information and presentation went to the Gillette team. The best information slot was shared by Pepsi, Amul and Kellogs.

The winning teams took home Rs. 1000 in dinner vouchers. Since everyone had put in their best efforts, the other teams were given snack coupons for Rs. 250.

That the students had just a week to prepare was not evident. They had worked together, scoured the Internet, and ironed out every little detail to put up a memorable show.

SUBHA J RAO

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