Amul Girl Creator Sylvester DaCunha Passes Away At 80
Image Credit: Twitter

Indian advertising legend and the main man behind Amul’s ‘Utterly Butterly’ girl, Sylvester daCunha, is no more. The iconic Indian ad man passed away in Mumbai and is survived by his wife, Nisha daCunha and son, Rahul daCunha.   

“He is the man behind the Amul girl. He has been part of Amul’s advertising for six decades. Obviously, Amul owes a lot to him for the entire branding he gave to Amul and giving this Amul girl to the world and making it the world’s longest advertising campaign with a single character,” Jayen Mehta, Managing Director of Amul marketer Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation Ltd, said. 

“Along with the legendary Dr. Verghese Kurien, it was Sylvester da Cunha who had initiated our immortal, iconic topical campaign in 1966, which is one of longest continuously running advertising campaigns in the world. This campaign scaled new heights, moved seamlessly from OOH to print, TV & then digital & social media, enhancing it’s reach & popularity across multiple generations!,” Pavan Singh, General Manager-Marketing at Amul India, said in a LinkedIn post. 

Sylvester daCunha’s legacy for the Indian ad industry and the impact of his life’s work on ordinary Indians is nothing short of remarkable. Over his long career, daCunha’s creations generated immense enthusiasm for India’s biggest dairy brand. The Amul girl has become one of the most well-known figures in Indian food history, and it is all thanks to this legend. Here’s more on Sylvester daCunha’s career and famous Amul girl ads. 

The Making Of The Iconic Amul Girl  

It was in 1966 that the Amul advertising account was given to Advertising and Sales Promotion (ASP), where the team of Sylvester daCunha, Eustace Fernandes, Usha Katrak and Marie Pinto were assigned to the account. The team came up with the iconic Amul girl—a little girl in a polka-dotted dress, big eyes, long lashes, blue hair and a distinctive ribbon. It was daCunha’s wife, Nisha daCunha, who came up with the now popular tag of ‘Utterly Butter’. 

When the first Amul girl ads hit the nation in 1966, the public reacted with immense pleasure. In 1967, daCunha decided that the nation needed a much-loved, relatable figure like the Amul girl to be even more current. So, daCunha and his team started creating ads featuring the Amul girl with current social and political references that immediately struck a chord with people. The Amul girl and team daCunha’s ad campaigns made the news cool for decades. 

Controversies And Yet So Much Love 

Since 1967, the Amul girl has commented on almost all of India’s major milestones, whether they were in the realm of politics, natural disasters or cricket. From celebrating sports victories to commenting on the success of movies like RRR and Baahubali, the Amul girl has been the face of it all. National public tragedies were also covered extensively by the Amul girl ad team—and this includes everything from the Mumbai floods to a tribute to the brave air hostess who stood up to hijackers, Neerja Bhanot. 

And yet, there have been many controversies surrounding the Amul girl ads over the decades as well. In 2001, an ad criticizing Indian Airlines generated a lot of backlash, while one in 2011 about the Commonwealth Games scam also saw some criticisms. Because they were creative, fearless and so current, many other Amul girl ad campaigns garnered the ire of political leaders and their supporters too. Ads commenting on Ganesh Chaturthi and Mamata Banerjee, for example, led to protests in Mumbai-Pune and Kolkata respectively in 2011. 

Despite this, the Amul girl, ad campaigns based on her witticisms, and her creator Sylvester daCunha have fired India’s imagination for decades. Though daCunha is no more, his legacy is proof that every time Indians get a packet of Amul milk, butter or any product, they will be reminded of the legend this man was.