Brand Saga: Decoding the secret of Chaar Boondo Wala Ujala’s evergreen nostalgia

Ujala advertising journey
Brand Saga

The jingle that had the power to keep the brand alive for a long time and a major hit in the category served, the Ujala advertising journey is a saga to reckon with.

A recent TV commercial of an age-old fabric blue brand took me down the memory lane when we wouldn’t stop humming ‘Aaya Naya Ujala, Char Boondo Wala…Ahaa’. Even today the jingle rings the right notes in triggering instant nostalgia. Any list comprising of best 90s ads jingles is incomplete without ‘Chaar Bundo Wala…Ujala’ and we cannot agree more. So, here’s a look at the Ujala advertising journey.

Amidst heavy competition from FMCG majors like Hindustan Unilever, the 36-year-old fabric blue still resonates the power to face the ax and contend to be on the top. Reveling this strong willingness and resilience of Ujala from the house of Jyothy Laboratories we explore the many facets of its journey.

Pitting against ‘Robin Blue’

Year-long kitchen experiments of boiling, diluting and testing by accountant-turned-entrepreneur M.P. Ramachandran led to the invention of Ujala fabric blue, initially positioned as a unique liquid fabric whitener against the detergents and washing powders occupying the cloth whitening category then. It was pitched in the market dominated by Reckitt Benkeiser’s Robin Blue in the 1980s and later faced competition from many emerging players selling ‘safedi’ to the consumers.

Beginning of the Ujala advertising journey

Ujala under the umbrella of Jyothy Laboratories went onto become a massive hit down South when in targeted only a small section of the Malayali community. In 1986 Jyothy Laboratories released its first print advertisement in the Kerala-based Mathrubhoomi newspaper.

A year after, the campaigning was extended to radio spots wherein Ramachandran effectively utilized the power of the voice medium to gather critical feedback from the consumers and converted it into a constructive branding exercise.

In 1987, Ujala marched ahead to further expand its base in neighboring Tamil Nadu and then there was no looking back. After setting up successful businesses in Chennai and Pondicherry in the year 1997, Ujala was set to reach every nook and corner of India.

According to an online blog, the company spent more than 50% of its sales on the advertisement in the same year which in a few years time resulted into Ujala dominating the fabric blue category with a market share of more than 70%, which the company has claimed to continue reign till today.

Making of the Famous Jingle

Ujala faced stiff competition from Robin Blue. With a combination of strong distribution networks and aggressive advertising, Ujala was able to outperform Robin. In response, Reckitt Benckiser launched its version of fabric blue called Robin Dazzling through which it tried to go the comparative way in its communication, claiming it required lesser number of drops to achieve the same result as Ujala and that it was less soluble in water.

This is when Ujala gave India the infamous jingle – Chaar Bundo Wala, Ujala’ to reckon with. While there was a heavy focus on regional advertising and equal conscience about the rural needs which – a segment which was ignored by other players who were urbanizing their products – Jyothy Lab was now looking at nationwide advertising.

Ramachandra then joined hands with Mr. Chatterjee of Situations Advertising who in turn spent considerable time in the core markets of Ujala to understand the customer and his usage of the product. The resulting ad was heavily used across all media and it effectively delivered the knock-out punch against Robin.

The ad directly addressed the need of the customer. White clothes were regularly used by men while it is the lady who is normally in charge of the laundry (at least back then). The ad addresses both by showing first, the man’s and then goes on to show how easy it was to use the product and effectively addressed the pain of the family.

Same old positioning with ad twists

The company later followed a usual pattern of advertising optimizing print, radio, and TV medium. Their TV commercials educated the consumers on the effective usage of Ujala as it had now become synonymous to the category it served.

Although the messaging stood constant around how Ujala is the ultimate whitening solution- the powerful ‘neel’ – the advertisements were executed differently and a sense of quirk was added each time they were ready to hit the screens of the idiot box.    

For instance, very few would recognize the presence of Bollywood beauty Vidya Balan in this ad rolling to ‘Tinak Tinak Dhin’ with her associates.

Another TVC featured a 12-13-year-old Kunal Khemu in a school set up. After shifting its focus across the country, Ujala never restricted itself to an age demographic and was quick to identify the need gap. It addressed every age group and gender according to their requirements and executed its insight well in the below communication – the jingle came by default.

Safedi Tujhe Salaam: After ‘Chaar Boondo wala Ujala’ , the popularity of this very commercial song from Ujala spread like wildfire and the 40-seconds advertisement is remembered till date. ‘Safedi Tujhe Salaam’  came with a combo of patriotism and the significance of the color white, both in maintaining peace and keep oneself fresh.

Moving further, Ujala forayed into the washing powder and detergent space to broaden its space in the fabric care segment. In 2011, the brand was touted to be Jyothy Lab’s 400 crore flagship product and occupied 72% of the whitening products market share.

Owing to the success, the company roped in Sachin Tendulkar to narrate his story of honesty and sincerity towards work, also positioning Ujala’s ‘Safedi mein Sachhai Ki Shakti‘ elemental approach.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Medimix’s 50 years of making Ayurveda accessible

Safedi Rakhe Barkarar – This 2008 commercial of Ujala puts the spotlight on how even after a long time the ‘safedi’ remains intact and the white refuses to fade. Here the company catered to the working-class and recognized the need to look fresh in work environment.

In 2013, however, with the changing times, the brand felt a need to get rebranded and introduce new packaging and positioning – Safedi ke aage Ujala. The TVC conceptualized by Cut The Crap aimed to capture the imagination of the younger, achievement-oriented individuals.

The brief to the agency then was to reiterate the brand values of Ujala and reassured Ujala remains to be the best choice for whiteness enhancement. The new Ujala packaging represented Jyothy Labs’s commitment to understand and cater to the changing preferences of the consumers while recognizing the dynamics of evolving consumer.

Ujala’s recent positioning talks about ‘Asli Safedi’ and stresses on how you can only get that with the brand. Also, the brand has moved on from Sachin Tendulkar and has taken on board R Madhavan as their face.

Posted by Mahalingeshwara Bhat on Wednesday, 10 July 2019

However, the brand is nowhere to be found on any new-age social media platforms including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram other than a few YouTube videos. In this age of intense digital race in the social space, we would highly recommend Ujala to join many iconic brands in transcending traditional boundaries of marketing and be socially relevant too.

The ‘Chaar boond’ have traversed through the realms of time making the Ujala advertising journey an iconic one.


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