The 90s was an era when India was booming. A unique India was born wherein the old blended with the new during an unprecedented economic spurt. The financial market was born, while India saw massive changes in politics.
Over time, the consumer market grew while the media industry boomed. Advertising agencies soon became the focal point for brands to thrive. Who doesn’t remember advertising jingles from those golden days?
If you were growing up in the 90s, you remember being glued to your television set every Sunday. Every time the Doordarshan logo lit up the screen, the unforgettable background music brought a smile to all faces. Watching the Mahabharata or Shaktimaan or even a cricket match with the whole family meant a lot to us.
But what stood out, even more, were the ads! We hummed along as the iconic ‘Humara Bajaj’ or ‘Action ka school time’ played out on our screens.
In 1947, India became a free country. With the hit of independence, modernization came fast and quickly. Although we were still importing several products, print and outdoor advertisements lacked creativity. Advertising jingles and slogans focused on factual information.
Source: Blast from the past: Leela Chitnis in the first print ad of Lux in the year 1961
The following two decades saw the birth of a new India wherein we wanted to portray the image of a country that was free from the British Raj. Creativity began booming. Media houses started pitching effective advertising campaigns using slogans and phrases that the audience connected with.
Source: Blast from the past: The chubby Murphy baby became popular in the 60s and 70s
The 80s saw an increase in radio sets in Indian households and the introduction of television sets – both in black and white and color. The golden age of Indian advertising was here to stay. Advertising houses focused on using the appropriate marketing channels instead of creativity.
Source: Blast from the past: The Nirma girl from the 1980s with “washing powder Nirma” became the most famous advertising jingle in that decade
Arguably the most significant growth phase came in the 90s. We saw an amalgamation of creativity and the usage of the appropriate marketing channels. India started getting more foreign investments, the internet era boomed, and liberalization took place. Advertising jingles and slogans became the norm.
Source: Blast from the past: Amir Khan in the ‘Thanda Matlab Coca-Cola’ campaign that took the world by storm
Probably the most memorable time for advertising jingles was the 90s. Let’s dive into refreshing our memory with the most famous ad jingles from those days.
Jingle: “Lifebuoy hai jahaan, tandrusti hai wahaan”
Creative agency: Lowe Lintas
U.K.-born Lifebuoy entered the Indian market in 1895. The brand introduced the concept of hygiene when the world was alien to it. Through the early and mid-1900s, Lifebuoy tried everything in its stride to entice the audience.
In the early 90s, they realized that the Indian market was changing, and women were taking charge of buying decisions in the house. This is when the jingle “Lifebuoy hai jahaan, tandrusti hai wahaan” became popular.
Jingle: “Aaya naya Ujala, chaar boodon wala”
Creative agency: Situations by Anjan Chatterjee
Launched by a homegrown company – Jyothy laboratory, Ujala faced stiff competition from Reckitt Benckiser’s Robin Blue. While Ujala in the powder form could not break through the market, the liquid worked wonders.
Alluring the Indian women (who were solely responsible for washing their husband’s clothes back then), the ad focussed on the easy-to-use concept of whitening fabrics. Composed by Ajay Bhatia and in the voice of the melodious Kavita Krishnamoorthy, “Aaya naya Ujala, chaar boodon wala” – this advertising jingle won many hearts.
Jingle: “Thums Up, I want my thunder”
Creative agency: Leo Burnett
Thums Up entered the Indian market in 1977 when Coca-Cola left a gap after exiting the country. Known for its distinct spicy flavor, Thums Up tantalized the taste buds of every Indian. It became the number one soft drink in its category.
With a macho image, Thums Up launched a “I want my thunder” campaign in the 90s. This advertising jingle was an instant hit! The ad showed a man bungee jumping to pick up a soft drink bottle.
Jingle: “Hamara Bajaj”
Creative agency: Lowe Lintas
Bajaj Auto has been manufacturing auto rickshaws, scooters, and motorcycles since the 1950s in India. In 1989, they were looking to popularize the Bajaj Chetak. Under the umbrella brand, they launched the advertising jingle ‘Hamara Bajaj’ – a famous ad jingle.
It showed an Indian using the two-wheeler for every chore – from going to the local market to an outing with a nuclear family. The scooter became a part of their daily routine and the most feasible mode of transport for middle-class Indians.
Jingle: “Doodh hai must in every season, piyo doodh for healthy reason, rahoge phir fit and fine, jeeyoge past ninety-niiiine…doodh, doodh, doodh, doodh”
Creative agency: FCB Ulka
In the 90s, India became an open market with several FMCG brands entering the country. An unexpected competitor – soft drinks, replaced the age-old milk. Children chose to have this sweet, artificial-flavored aerated drink over milk daily.
This was when the National Dairy Development Board stepped in. Along with Dr. Kurien (the man behind Amul), the ‘doodh campaign’ had come into existence. Within no time, everyone was humming the ‘doodh doodh’ song. It became the advertising jingle that made milk cool again.
Jingle: “Kuch khaas hai hum sabhi mein”
Creative agency: Ogilvy & Mather
Cadbury Dairy Milk’s iconic ad of a girl in a floral dress enjoying the chocolate bar on a cricket stand is still fresh in our minds. As soon as the batsman hits the winning runs, she runs towards the field with the famous jingle “kuch khaas hai zindagi mein, kuch khaas hai hum sabhi mein” playing in the background. This jingle was so popular that the brand recreated it with gender exchange roles in 2021.
Jingle: “Yehi hai right choice baby…aha!”
Creative agency: JWT
Lehar Pepsi entered the Indian market when the only other cola brand doing well here was Thums Up. Back in the early 90s, the Indian youth was looking for a change from a conventional standard of living.
Instead of thinking about the future – they wanted to live for the moment. Combining glamor and entertainment, they got well-known actors such as Amir Khan, Mahima Chaudhary, and Aishwarya Rai to act in this ad.
The advertising jingle was based on the North American campaign starring Michael J Fox – “You Got the Right One, Baby, Uh Huh!” No wonder it was an instant overnight hit!
Jingle: “Bole mere lips, I love uncle chips”
Creative agency: Contract Advertising
Amrit Agro, the first homemade brand to sell nitrogen-foil-packed potato chips in India, launched the campaign “bole mere lips, I love uncle chips!”
This advertising jingle won many hearts with its witty song. Uncle Chips enjoyed a 70% market share in the Indian market at one point.
There are no two ways about how memorable the advertising jingles of the 90s were! They were easy to remember, opened a floor of memories, and quickly added brand recall value. Some were short slogans, while others were full-blown songs.
Timeless, memorable, and creative – they struck a chord with us. The slogans and ads back then helped India enter a new era of consumer marketing.
Action ka school time – Action Shoes
Hamara Bajaj – Bajaj
Sabki pasand Nirma – Nirma
Nima Rose, Nima Rose, Roz Roz Nima Rose – Nima Rose
Kuch swaad hai zindagi mein – Cadbury Dairy Milk
Pan parag, pan masala, pan parag – Pan Parag
I’m a Complan boy – Complan
I love you Rasna! – Rasna
Saundarya Sabun Nirma – Nirma
Enterprise, Rediffusion, Ambience, Trikaya, Ogilvy, and some more were some of the big agencies from the 90s in India.