Brand Saga: Cello Pens – from penmanship to companionship

Sneha Yadav
Jun 10, 2021 07:29 IST
New Update
Cello Pens advertising journey

As June arrives and we crave that perfect pen to scribble in our school notebooks, we take a walk through the Cello Pens advertising journey which made stationary look cool and established their pens as the perfect companion.

It's that time of the year, kids carry a slight disappointment as it brings the fun-filled summer vacation to an end but are equally excited to meet their buddies back at school. In a normal world, a typical Indian household would have been prepping up to go for back to school shopping - school uniform, new grade textbooks, fresh and the latest stationery along with that lucky pen. Cello pens have been an integral part of these back-to-school days - both from a consumer and marketing point of view. With that, we decode the Cello Pens Advertising Journey.

As schools re-open in the New Normal, we decode the Cello pens advertising journey.

Cello Pens Advertising Journey - The ‘Start

Cello Group dabbles in manufacturing footwear, household items, steelware, plastic products, pens, and stationary. The company’s history can be traced back to 1967, when Ghisulal Rathod, the late founder and chairman of the Cello Group, started a small plastic industry with minimal resources and man force with a vision to manufacture plastic bangles and Polyvinyl chloride (PVC) footwear. It was set up in the bylanes of Mumbai’s Goregaon area.

Later, to expand, the company officially entered the market with the launch of its first plastic houseware products in 1982, setting up a factory for thermo-ware products in 1986. In 1994, in yet another feat, Cello Group decided to manufacture plastic molded furniture exporting raw materials from Italy.

It was in the year 1995 that it forayed into writing instruments and began manufacturing Cello Pens. The brand began by manufacturing & marketing a wide range of classic ball pens with imported tips and German inks. Focused on innovation, high-quality pens, Cello soon became India known widely in the stationery space.

In December, 2015, the French stationary major BIC® acquired 100 percent ownership in Cello® writing and the company was renamed as "BIC Cello (India)".

The Advertising Saga

The brand’s advertising tactics and sincere marketing has turned a ubiquitous product like ‘pens’ into a commodity that everyone desired to possess. The Cello Pens advertising journey can be defined as straightforward with a touch of quirk.

‘Cello- The pen India trusts’ has been at the core of the brand’s communication while the company aimed at fulfilling its objectives by expanding its magnitude of stationery products like permanent markers, whiteboard markers, fountain pens, roller pens, color markers, office and school stationery.

During its launch year, Cello Pens was India’s largest manufacturer of pens, holding a 37 per cent market share and producing over five million units daily.

Their commercials over the years, right from MS Dhoni’s stint to Mr. Lamba Naam’s struggles to the new age cricketer Jasprit Bumrah endorsing the pens, all drove a significant point highlighting that the pens can not only fix one’s problems but personified pens as a companion in disguise.

In July 2009, star cricketer M.S. Dhoni was onboarded as the brand's ambassador for Cello Pens with an aim to target age groups across kids and young adults. Dhoni was at the peak of his career and the nation's favorite. Leveraging India’s obsession with cricket and Dhoni’s fan following, Cello Pens roped him in as the face of the brand.

The TVC was executed by Situations Advertising and helmed by ad veteran, Prahlad Kakkar of Genesis Films during the time. It shows how a boy dangles upside down outside the team bus window in which Dhoni was travelling only to get his his autograph. When the kid’s pen doesn’t work, Dhoni uses his uses his Cello Pin Point to sign and also advises the boy to get a Cello Pen because it’s a pen for all and can be trusted anytime.

The ad garnered praise from the industry. Next in line was the stadium commercial which followed a similar narrative albeit in a different setup and location. The TVC displayed the power of Cello pinpoint and maxriter pens.

In 2009, French stationery major BIC Group acquired a 40 percent stake in Cello Pens at a price of INR 740 crore but the transaction was delayed and concluded in 2013 as a result of a legal tussle between the two companies.

In a bid to ensure that the company has something that fits everyone’s needs, Cello came up with a variety of pens ranging from ball pens, gel pens, roller pens, fountain pens, and pentek pens, each made with precision in various styles, as claimed by the company. After expanding the product portfolio, Cello Pens had to up its marketing game to translate the product excellence in sales.


Competition was huge and after Dhoni’s involvement as the brand endorser, Cello Pens had set the expectations high among its consumers. Yet another TVC was rolled featuring the cricket icon where his teammates can be seen trying every way possible to break the Cello Pen that ‘captain cool’ used to solve the puzzle. The TVC was complemented by a groovy soundtrack.

The school-going kids were one of the primary target audiences and the brand aimed to reduce their exam pressure by introducing multiple ranges of pens for comfortable writing. It also launched the tagline - ‘Exam time matlab Cello time’.

It must be noted down that Cello Pens kickstarted its promotions with a positioning of ‘Clear Pens’ and aggressively marketed its international offerings of German and Swiss tips ink. With quality writing, clear flow, premium smoothness, and speedy 5x mileage, Cello Pens emphasized its image as the best manufacturer of pens and uncompromising quality product manufacturer.  

After BIC acquired a 100% stake in the Cello Group it was renamed BIC Cello in 2015. Two years later came the commercial that evoked laughter like no other.

Mr.Lamba Naam’s tryst with Cello pens came into picture. The TVC conceptualized by J.Walter Thomspon (now Wunderman Thompson) was high on emotions, fun, and quirk with a visible touch of South India’s local flavor. ‘Cello Butterflow- so smooth..likhe san sanasan saayen saayen’ delivered a message that the Cello Butterflow pens are so super smooth that you don’t just write, you go #SanSanananSaayenSaayen.  

Building on the proposition of ‘Itna smooth…’ the brand came up with another TVC featuring Pankaj Udhas where he gets delivered a hoard of hand-written letters because his fans just couldn’t stop writing with Cello Butterflow Pens. With a contemporized version of ‘Chitthi Aayi Hai…’ the 40-second commercial stood out.

The Cello Geltech Karate TVC rolled out in 2016 stated that when there is Cello Geltech induced with Optiflow ink technology, nothing’s to worry about because ‘Na word badlega na kahaani badlegi’ and you will be successful in your storytelling. The campaign titled #DoesntSkipDoesntStop targeted school goers and their determination to think big and empower the joy of writing.

In 2017, the brand sought to transform the ordinary by launching a digital campaign for its 'Marky' range of pens. The three film campaign was conceptualized by Scarecrow Communications.

The Idea was to “Transform boring objects” and the campaign execution idea was Why Jhelo when you can badlo. It aimed at showcasing the usage of Cello Marky in day-to-day life by transforming mundane objects into desirable mediums of personal expression. It humorously showcased different situations where consumers are gifted or offered objects which they do not like in their current form.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Cinthol’s Alive & Awesome marketing stance targetted at the contemporaries

Built on a strategic insight that the pressure of doing well in exams is heavy on kids and in this scenario, it has become even more crucial to write fast, clearly, and comfortably, for a long time (nearly 3 hrs, exam after exam). Cello Pens' Exam Expert film rolled out in 2017 showcased conversations with different students who faced exam pressure in many ways, from multiple people, while trying to excel in exams.

The ad campaign was conceived by JWT Mumbai and highlighted how a good pen can offer the much-required ease and comfort while writing and can lessen the student’s burden.

As a response, in 2018, Cello Pens came up with a Parents version of the Exam Expert campaign wherein it launched a short film aimed at illustrating the change of perception of parents in exams time after having taken their selves the same exam.

This initiative was a part of the Cello Exam Expert Series which was manufactured keeping in mind the comfort of the students using it. Cello Exam Expert Series (Maxriter, Pinpoint & Technotip) are designed to enable students to write for a long time without pressure on their fingers and wrist. Titled ‘Surprise Test’, the short film directed by Abhishek Sengupta was launched digitally and crafted by J. Walter Thompson (JWT), Mumbai.

Then came the #ThankYouTeacher campaign in September 2018, a vox pop video launched on the occasion of Teacher’s Day where the brand got various people from different walks of life to talk about their fondest memories and favourite teachers.

In 2019, Cello’s World Cup campaign, #WriteToCheer urged users to buy its Cricket Fever pack during World Cup with Jasprit Bumrah as its face.


The brand leveraged Jasprit Bumrah as a hook to urge people to buy the Cricket Fever pack, and 10 lucky winners get a chance to meet and greet him for a net practice session. The brief in hand was to ride the World Cup wave by promoting the Cricket Fever pack by making the most of the cricketer to drive the Digital Campaign.

On the occasion of International Women’s Day in 2020 and as the core brand promise of ‘Sign of Success’, Cello Pens launched the ‘Cello Signature Campaign’ which acknowledged the emotional support extended by an IAS officer’s family who encourages her not to let her professional calling be hindered by domestic responsibilities. The philosophy of celebrating signs of success is also reflected in brands’ communication that highlights the need to give women wings to soar high and achieve their dreams. 

It also rolled out a set of bumper ads asking kids that TV and movie shows can wait. But exam scores cannot! So make the best use of your exam time with #smoothwriting of Cello Pens.

Cello Writing's Digital Play

Whether it be a festive occasion like Eid or a day to commemorate the Nurses, Cello Pens have been quick to adorn the creative hat and craft endearing posts for the moments with an objective to not miss the important occasions and put out the brand's message as clear as it's pens.

From hopping onto moment marketing to devising topical creatives to linear product promotions, Cello Pens is leveraging digital platforms to amplify its reach and enhance the brand identity on social media including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram apart from campaign announcements on YouTube and contest alerts on Instagram.

Cello Pens used humor when required to break through the clutter, driving home various important messages in times of need. The Cello Pens advertising journey has been inventive and reliable, enabling the brand to create a strategy that translates in sales.

#Cello Pens #cello group #cello pens ad campaigns #cello pens ads #Cello Pens advertising journey #cello pens brand saga #cello pens campaigns #cello pens marketing #cello pens ms dhoni #cellop pens advertising #mr lamba naam