Brand Saga: Badshah Masala, weaving the waft of spices in iconic campaigns…

Badshah Masala advertising journey

The Badshah Masala advertising journey is the definition of the term iconic. From their first ad in a Mumbai local train to a sneak peek in the memories of creating their most inconic campaign – ‘Swadh Sugandh Ka Raja’, in this chapter of Brand Saga, we bring to you stories, unheard.

Those were the times when aside from the Bollywood songs, we found joy in humming to the tunes of evergreen ad jingles and songs. One that definitely topped the list was ‘Swad Sugandh ka Raja, Badshah Banaye Badhiya Khana’ Masala. The jingle was so effective that many credit it for immortalizing the brand. Today, we take a look at the Badshah Masala advertising journey and journal its key milestones.

Badshah Masala – The Humble Beginnings

Spices and India go hand in hand. The varied masalas add flavor to our food like no other. While the Mughals are known to have introduced the blend of Indian spices, it’s a known fact that any Indian dish is incomplete with the touch of homegrown masalas.

Taking cues from India’s love for spices, Badshah Masala took birth in 1958, started by Shri Jawaharlal J. Jhaveri and Shri Ramanlal J. Jhaveri. The beginnings are simple and small with just Garam and Tea masala on the aisles.

After the founder duo passed away, the reins were taken over by their sons Hemant Jhaveri and Kailash Jhaveri. Hemant Jhaveri has been the Managing Director of Badshah Masala for 26 years, now since 1996. He fondly remembers how his father would acquire tin cans that cigarettes used to be sold in, clean them, and peel off the labels. He would then package the masalas in them, ride his bicycle and sell them. They quickly became very popular owing to their taste, quality, and prices.

A small unit in Ghatkopar, an Eastern suburb in Mumbai was set up, which quickly got upgraded to a large 6000 sq. feet factory in Umbergaon (Gujarat). Pav Bhaji Masala, Chat Masala & Chana Masala were introduced soon.

Badshah Masala is one of the oldest spice brands in the country and competes with the likes of MDH Masala and Everest. It also boasts of a massive sales network. The company also wants to diversify the brand further by foraying into RTE (Ready To Eat) and pickles segments.

The Badshah Masala Advertising Journey

Badshah Masala will always be known as “Swad Sugand Ka Raja” thanks to the iconic jingle that aired more than 40 years ago and still resonates with the young and old alike.

“But things began very humbly,” shares Hemant Jhaveri. “Shortly after the brand took birth in 1958, it tasted immediate success, and manufacturing units were set up due to growing demand. Advertising was required to bring the message to the masses and the first big campaign started with boards on the side of Mumbai local trains. Even this humble medium was huge, as at the time Badshah Masala and Nirma were the only two brands visible on it.”

The most memorable of course is the “Swad Sugandh Ka Raja” campaign. The voice that sang the famous jingle belonged to Preeti Sagar. Jhaveri recalls,

“During the song recording, the music director wanted a legendary Lata Mangeshkar-like delivery and Preeti was spot on in the very first attempt.”

Advertising was required to bring the message to the masses and the first big campaign started with boards on the side of Mumbai local trains” – Hemant Jhaveri

The breakthrough jingle-based TV ad was launched and it propelled the brand sky high and made it a household name. The sway of that single piece of communication still carries momentum. The jingle was used everywhere for decades – TV, Radio, Theatre, and Railway Stations.

“It was like viral content from ages ago before the concept of going “viral” was even conceptualized. Recently, a famous social media personality (Ruhee Dosani) remixed the jingle and her reel created a lot of buzz and started a trend of people dancing to the jingle. It proved that a single quality ad can work for a long time and that brands need not always keep creating new ads to succeed,” says Jhaveri.

What differentiates Badshah Masala from other spice brands, as per the company, is while the others are trying to increase their foothold above regional sales to the national level, Badshah Masala is going international. The brand equity gained from being in the market for so long makes international partners prefer the brand for their purchases over other newer brands. The “Swad Sugandh Ka Raja” jingle even resonates with Indians abroad and also consumers and partners of other nationalities.

There were also TV spots that featured kids prepping up for a scrumptious Pav bhaji with the Badhsha Bombay Pav bhaji masala with the help of an imaginary animated Emperor as the brand was loosely translated into Emperor of spices.

The brand followed up with many single-product focussed TV ads like one for Lal Badshah (red chili powder). It brought back the jingle again as the background track for another video titled Flavours Of India’ which showed a cross-section of Indians loving their food, especially street food, and the varied food cultures of our country.

Over the years, the company launched innumerable blended spices like Bombay Bhaji Pav Masala, Punjabi Chole Masala, Paneer Butter Masala, and more to authentic grounded spices like Amchur Powder, Black Pepper Powder, and Ginger Powder.

The list also includes aromatic ranges of Asafoetida to premix tea masalas – all in all, it offered a wholesome package of spices and bet big on advertising is a vast range of portfolio exploring 360-degree media – print, radio, television, and slowly but steadily caught pace with digital.

Sharing some interesting anecdotes during the making of one of the commercials, Jhaveri remembers, “During the shoot of the montage ad, the shooting crew kept stopping to enjoy all the delicious street food they were shooting. But it was fine, they were happy and a happy team produced good work.”

To celebrate the 71st Independence Day of India, Badshah Masala launched “Humare Yahan” in 2017, an ad that showcased the similarity between the people and food of India and Pakistan, spreading the message of love by focussing on what unites instead of what divides us.

“Humare Yahan gained a lot of eyeballs because of the sensitive topic of India & Pakistan but during scripting, the creative team was in a jiffy about whether we would get some backlash,” shares Saurabh Pacheriwal, Co-Founder & Captain, Gemius – Surat. Badshah Masala onboarded Gemius as its digital marketing agency around 2016-17.

He adds, “We’re glad in the end it all went well and the YouTube video had a good reception. It was fun to shoot the film on such an important subject and we did it complete justice but the crew also enjoyed inverting the use of the phrase “Humare Yahan” as a joke to make fun of some of the other less-savory stereotypes of our neighboring country.”

“Humare Yahan” was the first-ever YouTube campaign for Badshah Masala and was shot in Surat. Jhaveri notes, “Though the ad gave the message of India-Pakistan friendship, it was still Pakistan! The crew had a roaring time memefying the phrase “Humare Yahan” and taking potshots at our sometimes unfriendly neighbor. It was all in good spirit.”

Gemius kickstarted its association with Badshah Masala with the launch of the digitally run campaign #BadshahKeSaath and associated a lot of festivals and occasions with the brand.

The brand’s latest campaign “Har Dil Ka Badshah” has a very relevant message for social change. It wanted to power gender equality conversations around the wrong belief that it is only women who do the cooking in the house. The ad was shot in two versions, one with the mother and her daughter and the other with the mother and her son.

Also Read: Brand Saga: Celebrating India’s tryst with Everest Spices

Taking us behind the scenes, Jhaveri shares, “During the shoot of “Har Dil Ka Badshah”, actress Loveleen Mishra kept changing the word Masala to Masale and argued with us that it was the right grammatical way and we kept arguing that the brand name was Badshah Masala. It was very funny for the agency guys, they stayed out of the debate and watched us and Loveleen argue it out. And because of the message of the ad, the male actor kept getting light-heartedly taunted with variations of “khaane mein kya hai”, “work from home” and “chal khaana bana.”

#HarDilKaBadshah was shot during COVID-19, Pacheriwal shares that it required a lot of rescheduling and was a very different experience from the earlier shoots.

Commenting on the Badshah Masala advertising journey so far, Jhaveri quips, “We consider consumer insights to be very important and tailor our communications to match with what our audience likes. Our consumers act on trust and we keep building on that trust by making campaigns that revolve around the family and have strong social messaging that resonates with one and all.”

Badshah Masala On Digital

Regular contests have kept the consumers of Badshah Masala engaged on social media which comes with the gratification of winning the Badshah Masala hamper.

As per the brand, it leverages all popular social media platforms for maximum reach where Instagram has been the most effective.

Jhaveri informs, “Everyone is on it nowadays, it’s no longer a platform with pretty pictures for millennials. The young secondary audience has a greater influence on purchase decisions than was earlier assumed. Twitter works well for trending topics and moment marketing. Facebook & YouTube are great to reach mothers & cooking enthusiasts and we keep posting recipe videos and use food influencers & content creators for better reach.”

The most important thing for the brand on social media is to keep all accounts active with regular content, making it easy for customers to find Badshah Masala on whichever platform they prefer. “Pictures of delicious food work wonders, making users hungry and craving a dish made with a Badshah Masala. Contests & recipes are the two things that are most relevant for our audience and we keep doing these on a regular basis,” he adds.

At present, Badshah Masala has dedicated 20% of its advertising budget to digital and aims to further scale it up.

Badshah Masala has served for more than six decades. As India is a field of aromatic and exotic spices, Badshah Masala claims to be picking these herbs from the best of fields and blending them to make a wide range of Masalas for different dishes.

From all these years, their entrepreneurial jargon has remained the same- Catering national and international households with unbeatable flavours and enchanting aromas adding the necessary nutritional value. The Badshah Masala advertising journey reflects the brand purpose in a true sense.


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