When a woman complained that her son “Raju hated milk… till I added Nutramul,” she spoke for an entire generation of mothers who struggled to get their children to drink ‘uncool’ milk, until Amul came to their rescue.
Nutramul, a chocolate-based nutritious milk additive, was developed by Amul in 1973. The brand became a household name in the 1970s, thanks to an ad starring a young Jugal Hansraj (long before his movie debut as a child actor in Shekhar Kapoor’s Masoom) and wrestler Dara Singh. Hansraj played Raju, a little boy who didn’t like milk, but once it was mixed with Nutramul powder, he was all set to be “strong like Dara Singh” and a “Nutramul Dada”.
The ad’s promise of ‘Every cup builds you up’ and little Jugal’s antics won hearts all across the country in the late 1970s.
A bid to beat Bournvita and give cocoa farmers their due
The credit for making Nutramul a household brand goes to daCunha Communications. Amul and daCunha Communications have been hailed as the most creative partnership in India.
A senior content creator at daCunha Communications tells ThePrint, “As far as Nutramul is concerned, Dr Verghese Kurien (of Operation Flood and Amul fame) and Sylvester daCunha (founder of daCunha Communications) were interacting with each other and wondering what could be done to combat beverages like Bournvita.”
But that wasn’t the sole motivation behind bringing Nutramul to the market. In response to an email sent by ThePrint, the office of Sylvester daCunha reveals, “Nutramul production started alongside Amul’s chocolate plant in 1973 to 1974. Amul entered the chocolate-based beverage industry to provide remunerative prices to farmers for their cocoa produce. This was because cocoa producers from Karnataka and Kerala had approached Dr Kurien to ask for his support on cocoa prices.”
Nutramul’s USP was its focus on strength
Strength was the focus of most advertisements for Nutramul. daCunha Communication’s content creator says, “The idea behind commercials for Nutramul was to make it memorable for children. The product’s USP was strength.”
He recalls that during the making of the Jugal Hansraj commercial, someone in the production house had good connections with Dara Singh and he was signed for the ad.” It worked, because who better than Dara Singh to signify strength and nutrition as an aspiration?
Another Nutramul ad featured the story of a father in the armed forces and his son. Their stories were juxtaposed to show that both of them gathered their strength from Nutramul.
The content creator says that Amul’s policy and priority for most products has been to keep the price affordable. However, this didn’t always help Nutramul’s sale.
Even though its launch price was 35 per cent lower than rival Bournvita, Nutramul found it hard to compete for market space. Sylvester deCunha, in an email, tells ThePrint, “We tried to use the press and TV for developing the brand’s image. We also offered some freebies like printed mugs, hot wheel toys etc.” Despite these efforts, Nutramul was unable to establish dominance over brands like Bournvita and was unable to fend off brands like Boost as well.
In order to combat these product innovations and improvements, Amul decided to revamp the product. Sylvester daCunha says, “In 2012, we launched an improved product with added vitamins and minerals and named it Amul PRO.”
But it didn’t work for long, with the opening up of the markets. “Later on, the manufacturing of Nutramul was stopped and we shifted focus on developing consumer segment sales,” he added.
Despite being discontinued, the legacy of Nutramul lives on since its loyal consumers still miss it sorely. Anandharaman MV, a pharma marketing consultant, tells ThePrint that one of his fondest childhood memories was his mother asking him to get Nutramul from grocery stores. He reminisces, “It was original in taste. Sadly, it isn’t available any longer. I would love to drink it again if it’s made available.”
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