This was around 1986-87. When the National Egg Coordination Committee (NECC) approached us for an advertising campaign. Egg consumption had been static for several years, and there were a number of barriers to contend with.
There was, of course, the perception barrier—a lot of people considered eggs “non-vegetarian” food, greatly limiting their reach. There was also ignorance of the egg’s nutritive quality outside its richness in protein (compared with, say, apples, which were perceived to have do-good qualities the fruit actually didn’t have).
Thirdly, how many ways could you cook the damn thing? It wasn’t seen as a versatile food, and people assumed that boredom would set in quickly with a regular egg diet. Finally, there was also a significant drop in egg consumption during summer—it was seen mostly as a “winter” dish.
So strategically, we had to tackle all these different barriers in the campaign—and we decided to start by making, first, the egg seem exciting, and the campaign educative (hit the left brain and the right brain at the same time). So, for TV, we had the Meri Jaan, Meri Jaan, Sunday ke Sunday jingle, based on an old Hindi song. The idea actually came out of a line I’d written in English, which was “Have you had an egg today?”
That line was also the basis for what became the signature line of the ad: Sunday ho ya Monday, Roz Khao Andey.
In print, we went for the educational campaign. Our first ad featured an oval egg with the line The Best Square Meal in the World?
That was phase I. For phase II, we took out a booklet of recipes, listing all the different ways you could cook eggs—Spanish omelettes, egg biryani and egg chaat, for example.
After this, we decided on targeted campaigns for core consumer groups. Our research showed that the two categories we should focus on were young children, who needed extra nutrition to grow up healthy, and pregnant women, who essentially needed nutrition for two people.
We had an advertisement with a controversial line: Do you wish your child to be a boy, a girl or a healthy bouncy baby?
We had spoken to Sachin Tendulkar also at the time—we told him youngsters would be happy to listen to his advice. But he made his NECC ad debut many years later.
I think we were fairly successful with our execution. We won awards, and for NECC the commercial repercussions were positive.
Over the last few years, there has been an understandable lack of advertisements. After avian flu, it was a bad time to advertise—when there was a distinct antipathy against your product.
As told to Krish Raghav.