Vintage Indian brands and ads: it’s nostalgia time

I had this fascination for magazines right from my early teens. Which probably explains a lot of things about me. Ha ha. Anyways, I had shelves full of Illustrated Weekly of India, imprint (published by R V Pandit), Life, Movie (when it was edited by Rauf Ahmed) among others. Children, we are talking early ’80s here. What is fresh in my mind is the classy, all lowercase masthead of imprint, it’s clean layout and focus on content. The Illustrated Weekly changed avatars briefly before it went defunct. Rauf Ahmed’s Movie magazine was perhaps ahead of it’s time in terms of layout and content – which was heavily photography driven.

I was also influenced by the ads in them – I still have my drawings of Elpar Suiting ands and Air India hoardings from those days.


Of course, ads from the early days of my career – Thums Up, Campa Cola and several others are still fresh in my mind. So herewith some ads from that vintage and thereabouts:

BSA SLR: One of the early endorsements for Kapil Dev, but not as popular as his Palmolive da jawab nahin ad.


Campa Cola: this was almost generic to cola back then. I remember all the words of the jingle even today.


Gold Spot: the zing thing and the Gold Spot Jungle Book collection are quoted in marketing circles even today. Perhaps this print ads doesn’t do justice to the peppy nature of the TV ad.

Zing Thing.jpg

Dipys: Yipee, it’s Dipy’s was the tagline and the print ads had a comic strip like feel to them, a la Lucky Luke.


Image sourced from here.

Bombay Dyeing & Vimal: Like in many ads of that era, a jingle was common for suiting ads. Shashi Kapoor’s son, Karan Kapoor featured in the Bombay Dyeing ads, where he was labeled the ‘Dream Lover’. Deepak Parasher and Anna Bredmeyer feature in this ‘Only Vimal’ ad.


GEC was perhaps the first brand that I interacted with closely in a literal sense. One had to manually tune it a particular frequency – a task made difficult since it had a mind of it’s own. My brother would tune it to Radio Australia for the cricket commentaries at 5-am and I had to sometimes ensure that it stayed tuned. We later got a Philips transistor which was a companion during dinner time. Jaymala and the late night Hindi songs were regulars along with BBC News, Voice of America, Ameen Sayani’s Cibaca Top 10 on SLBC and the Bournvita Quiz Contest.

The 1983 Asian Games brought the TV revolution and Dyanora and ECTV into homes. We had a B&W set first and had to manually turn the knob to switch channels. Phool khile hain gulshan gulshan, the early soaps like Hum Log, Karamchand, Vikram aur Betaal were family favourites. Since we grew up in Chennai, when they played a Kannada movie during the weekly ‘regional language’ movie on DD it was special. I also remember Sabina Merchant’s ‘What’s the good word?’ which used to come on DD Mumbai.

And then there was North Star Shoes – ah, those were precious. I remember buying a North Star jacket for my younger brother when he went abroad. And also Tree Top- perhaps the first tetrapak juices. I could go on and on: ECE bulb, Sylvania Laxman, Indana ghee, Natraj Pencil, Vicco Vajradanti…and more.

For a great read on growing up in the 80s and the ads from that era, see this post: Who said I am nostalgic?

Thanks to Soumyadip of Cutting the Chai for all the press ads, except where mentioned.

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