i think i need a sleuth on the job. would mr poirot like to step in or maybe mr holmes? they say, and they obviously haven’t a clue, that you can find anything (read everything) on the net.
alas, not true. for the most part of my morning today i have searched, at first confidently, then impatiently, finally desperately… for something you’d think was pretty simple to find: the name of the advertising agency or the copywriter who wrote a line for an orange fizzy drink called gold spot. a line which stays back of mind always, part of your personal word/phrase/idea collection, reminder of a time in your life. so easily and comfortably fitting in there that you never really think to ask, huh, who wrote it?
the zing thing.
have you heard that “slogan”? does it instantly mean a soft drink called gold spot to you? in the late seventies and early eighties, when coca-cola and pepsi were not there in the indian paan stall and kirana shop, we used to drink indian made fizzies and they all “spoke” to us in their own way, just as fizzy drinks have done ever since they came into being somewhere in the eighteen hundreds.
my search gave me the exact details about that actually. it was in 1767 that joseph priestly invented carbonated water, which led to the formidable array of sodas we have today. more importantly, it possibly also led to the discovery of oxygen by mr priestly. you never know what can take you where, i thought, as i scanned the information.
but today, my quest was to write about “the zing thing”.
gold spot, the zing thing, gold spot! that’s how it plays in my head, a clear memory. in the commercial speeding by, lots of orange everywhere, a young man and and a young woman sort of flirting… dancing, no not ballroom. anything but. the eighties were upon us and dance was finding its way to its new moves. the jingle sounded like a song from grease or a high school type of musical, the pronunciation of the singer was crisp and not at all tinged with a touch of desi as we’ve become comfortable with today. javed jaffrey leaped and spun and jived in one commercial, kitu gidwani rode pillion in another, they were new faces that would soon after become very well known. there was biking and rollerskating beside dancing in a cafe… all the cues were so western.
and yet, that line… something about it was unmistakably indian. spicy, masala, with a sting in it. the zing thing.
i used to like the sound of that “zing”, it said many things. perhaps the advertising was highly influenced by coca-cola’s “the real thing” but the way “zing” came at you, there was a sense of drama and flight that felt zippy. there was an abandoned not at all tight upper lip happiness there.
it had cut through.
i was a non cola drinker, preferring orange and lime, maybe that’s why the ads appealed. there’s an innocence on the faces i miss these days.
but more than the visuals, it was always that line. it was powerful… now goldspot, one word, is the name of a successful band in the us, started by a young man of indian origin.
i realised gold spot had been around for many years before the zing thing campaign began. ramesh chauhan, an entrepreneur with a vision and ken all his own, had successfully created the biscuit brand parle gluco and wanted to break into the cola market back in the fifties. seems bigger business kept stymieing his plans and he finally launched not a cola but gold spot, a carbonated orange drink.
right through, the advertising for this new drink was different, with an accent on interpreting cool. i was delighted to find an ad which has rekha, the famous bollywood star or should i say “diva”, in it. she was practically unknown at that time. mr chauhan was great at spotting talent i think.
when coca-cola came back to india in 1993, they bought parle’s soft drink business for some forty odd million dollars. by then the company was the owner of the biggest cola brand in india as well… thums up. coca-cola decided to put its might behind its own orange soda, fanta, and let gold spot perish.
even so, i believe, it has lingered on in parts of the country these more than twenty years, with a two percent market share in its category. the zing goes on.
a couple of thoughts.
the jaaved jaffrey commercial was made by rediffusion advertising so most likely they were the creators of “the zing thing” campaign. but the name of the copywriter still eludes me. perhaps i really should call miss marple. or even mulder and scully.
the full definition of “zing” from the miriam-webster dictionary:
“1 : a shrill humming noise
2 a : an enjoyably exciting or stimulating quality : zest <really put some zing into this industry — Erwin Fine>
b : a sharply piquant flavor <barbecue sauce with zing>”
adiction is all about the ads and commercials we love and which mean something to us. we live in a world wrapped in media, ads abound, all around, wherever we are… a part of us practically. they form a layer of imagery and ideas that’s embedded in our environment. why not chat about them then? reminisce, review, rant, let’s ad it.
all ads and commercials courtesy google/youtube/uploaders, thank you.
rhea sinhaJuly 1, 2015 at 2:06 pm
Indi di reading this article was a lot of fun. I have not seen these ads before. How young they look and the song does have a western vibe to it. Rekha was a model for advertisements before she entered films? I had no idea. I don’t know if its the exclusivity of ads from old days, but the jingles remain in memory far longer than anything of today.
Internet makes such a lot of information accessible doesn’t it? Maybe someone will read this article on writersbrew someday and claim his fame as the creator of the zing thing.
indrani robbinsJuly 1, 2015 at 6:05 pm
hi rhea, would be great if someone read this and said they wrote that. old ads have the feel of the time i guess. for all these young brands, it was important not to be deemed desi then, be sort of “international”, so much talk about accent and stuff. we used to have a very well known voice over artist… partap sharma, he sounded so western but of course only to our ears, to the west he possibly sounded just stuck in another era. he had a beautiful voice, i looked for his cadbury’s dairy milk ads but couldn’t find… everyone wanted to sound like him in ads. i had no idea he was a great actor on stage and writer too. but as india changed that hankering to sound and feel undesi also i think went. there came the ads in hinglish, humko binnie’s mangta was one of the earliest. our advertising changed as we did… somewhere i read, the seventies, especially sholay, brought the influence of bollywood to tv. the seventies were such a different time, when we let go of some stuff and started moving toward something else that defined us more… yeah our “jingles” were very memorable. this filmi thing just tripped into advertising replacing i think that angrez air. the market had changed, the buying power was growing and the target audience was no longer just the english educated. actually somewhere in the late eighties the whole notion of what’s relevant and apt advertising in india changed. good english copy just lost its value. then english as it used to be spoken with care and love for the language went. it became just a language that one spoke and felt no need to really appreciate. i don’t think an idea has a language though. so the loss of english is not a big deal, however, copy itself seems to lack power now, as does idea… maybe things are happening too fast and so much money goes into advertising, no one wants to take the rap and go for a sharp original idea, just play “safe”. yeah, seems rekha was a model too. actually, ramesh chauhan is a natural born brand maker. gutsy guy, risk taker and with an eye for what gels. thanks for reading.
rhea sinhaJuly 2, 2015 at 12:00 am
I have been thinking of writing about 2 cadbury adds I really like and you mentioned the brand in your comment. Am going to take that as a sign and try and write. Thank you universe se sent di.
indrani robbinsJuly 3, 2015 at 11:49 am
please write… when that dancing girl ad broke, i disliked it instantly and of course it went on to become one of the most popular ads… cadbury’s was repositioning the dairy milk chocolate to young people, moving away from just kids. the ad i was looking for was before that… where partap sharma would say “rich, dairy cream…” sounded like “wich dairy cweam…” we would laugh about the angrez accent (though we always enjoyed that voice) because i think our ears were changing their taste…/ looking for simple angreji, maybe even a hint of desi… a friend of mine masud ul huq had just the voice…