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Thursday, July 24

Ram Aur Shyam and the Power of Stories!!

Some time back I had promised myself that will pen this post about Ram aur Shyam!

Well, Ram aur Shyam were these two characters(detectives) created by the iconic India brand - Parle (Poppins) many decades back...They are not around anymore...The current Poppins tagline reads - Goli Rainbow Wali...Okay so why am I telling all this...

One fine day, as a harried father hassled for a different bed-time story every night, I decided to dig into memory and fished out 'Ram aur Shyam' from the attic of my memory!

- These Ram aur Shyam stories came as a serialised print ad on the back page of a children's magazine called 'Parag'(from the TOI group if I remember correctly, but went off the market more than a decade back)

- I loved Poppins(the differently coloured, button shaped candies - 10 to a pack) and loved these two characters who solved a crime using Poppins! Sometimes the Poppins trail led to the 'bad guy'. Other times the Poppins pack doubled up as a gun to hold up the baddie...

- Three decades later, on a whim and no particular reason, I decided to resurrect the two characters to satisfy the daily story needs of Neo...

- Little did I know that Ram aur Shyam would be an instant hit at par with Ben 10 and my rating as father which till then was trailing behind my wife by a mile would receive a shot in the arm LOL

- These stories are fairly interactive:-) Neo chooses the venue of the story every night(that's a whole new ritual)...Ram aur Shyam take a flight to that venue. So he chooses the airline as well...

- The success of these stories with my 5 year old son remind me of a sad truth : many Indian brands have often abandoned their well entrenched brand stories and carelessly moved ahead. Like Poppins did or like Ceat abandoned the Rhino story or like Air India fails to build upon the Maharaja mascot/ story...Onida had to ferret out the devil story from it's past to regain(well partially) it's voice again...

- The problem, I feel is never in the stories. It's almost always in the lack of belief in brand teams and the absence of imagination to recast them for the new times...

- Like I mentioned in the Ceat post, powerful brand narratives shouldn't be junked in a huff...There are ways and means to contemporise the plot and the characters.

- In fact the more the media gets cluttered, and the decibel level of brand hype gets raised, simple brand stories from the past might help communicate better.Stories will allow better conversation with the brand in the new social media eco-system that's getting constructed all around!

- I just hope with animation getting so evolved and games getting central to marketing to kids, maybe characters like Ram aur Shyam(and their contemporary avatars) will again find their way into the brand narrative...

Either ways, I marvel how a candy brand(mere zamane ka) came to my rescue in telling the daily bedtime stories:-)

P.S. Just couldn't find a copy of the old Ram Aur Shyam Poppins print ad...Hai kya kissi ke pass?

5 comments:

POOJA NAIR said...

hey! believe it or not, i may just have one. I will have to check with my grandmom if she still has that big collection of amar chitra kathas that first belonged to my mother when she was a kid and survived to be savoured by me and my younger borther during our yearly summer visits to my grand-parents home in Trivandrum.

Unless the book has crumbled away from old age...i can assure you, i can get a scan of the comic strip ...lets see.

I can't believe I had forgetten them!

I competely agree with the points you made about brands abandoning powerfull narratives.

Yes i remember i read a story where they use popins as a gun.

Another series of ads was that of cadburys gems which showcases pictures being cloloured in using gems. like a parrot wiht green gems and red gems for the beak.

That really stirred my imagination as a kid too.

Pinku said...

completely agree on the need to be true to the brand story.

Sadly most brands keep hopping from one stance to another nowadays in search of easy solutions.

The Poppins story was straight out of nostalgia...thanks for reminding.

Shubhadeep said...

Dude... just came across your blog randomly... Tell you what? I still know a place where Parle Poppins publishes Ram and Shyam ;-)

Check out "The Telegraph" (Kolkata edition). They have a magazine called Telekids every Wednesday. Just visit the last page and relive your nostalgia :-)

kaush said...

Even Tinkle and Bhavan's Dimdima.........The new version...the dekatrix one.....They are cool!!!!!

kaush said...

Even Tinkle and Bhavan's Dimdima........They are cool!!!