Do you remember the Iconic Dhara Jalebi Ad: Watch Here

The Iconic Dhara Jalebi Ad- A Story of Emotions and Relatability - OldisGold

Millennials in India need no introduction to the famous Dhara Oil advertisement from the 1990s featuring a runaway boy and a plate of jalebis. The ad may not have made them familiar with the taste of Dhara-cooked food, but it has remained etched in their memories, just like sugar syrup sticks to fingertips.

Jalebi Boy, now 28-year-old Parzaan Dastur from Mumbai, vividly remembers his hunger as he was brought straight to the set in a yellow t-shirt and blue dungarees by his mom, which became his iconic outfit forever linked to the Dhara brand. The ad ran for five years, thanks to the clever marriage of two clichés: home is where the heart is and the way to a boy’s heart is through his stomach.

The advertisement was launched and distributed by the National Dairy Development Board, and Dhara had become the largest-selling brand of edible oil by the 1980s, aided by government subsidies. However, the subsidy was withdrawn, and Dhara’s image suffered, becoming associated with low budgets. Advertising agency Mudra Ahmedabad, which represented the brand, needed to rebrand it. That’s where Jagdish Acharya of Cut The Crap came in with the idea of a story built on emotions that involved a child. After brainstorming with his team and his mother, who suggested using jalebis instead of kachoris, the now classic advertisement was born.

Despite the glaring plot loophole of a four-year-old boy running away from home and making it to the train station by himself, audiences were not hung up on the boy’s age. They were able to relate to the ad’s message of coming home, especially for a mother’s cooking.

The 60-second ad stuck to a simple plot with beautiful scene sequences, such as the transformation of a bicycle wheel into a jalebi. It avoided melodrama and loud theatrics, opting for simple sequences, minimal dialogue, and a background tune that stayed with viewers for years to come.

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