Maggi: From two minutes to 25 years

By Khushboo Tanna , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | April 23, 2009
On its 25th anniversary, Nestlé's Maggi has launched a campaign, inviting consumers to share their Maggi Moments

From a midnight snack to a lonesome bachelor's emergency meal, Nestlé's Maggi has, over time, been a part of nearly everyone's life. The instant noodle snack brand -- which is also one of the instant packaged food products that Indian consumers were exposed to -- is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.

To make consumers part of the brand's journey, its latest communication talks about various memories people associate with Maggi. The ad has been conceptualised by Publicis India. "It gives you a feeling of nostalgia, and works on the basic truth that everyone has at least one Maggi story to tell," says Emmanuel Upputuru, national creative director, Publicis India.

Hemant Mishra, president and chief operating officer, Publicis India, goes a step further and declares that the ad is a co-creation of the brand and the consumer. Whenever there is mention of Maggi, a consumer will immediately start talking about his favourite style to cook/consume it, he says, while sharing an incident that happened with his own children. While they were on a family vacation to Leh, they came across Maggi that was cooked in local spices, which became an instant hit with his children. The new campaign is "inspired" by such truths, he explains.

Maggi is born: The product journey

Back in 1984, instant noodles were an entirely new category. Maggi was then available in four variants -- Masala, Chicken, Sweet and Sour and Capsicum. It is now available in Chicken, Masala, Tomato and Curry variants.

In 2005, Nestlé introduced Maggi Atta instant noodles and then Maggi Rice Mania as well. Both of these, apparently, couldn't match the original Maggi. Other products from the Maggi stable include Maggi Cuppa Mania, Maggi Sauces, Maggi Bhuna Masala, Maggi Healthy Soups and Maggi Magic Cubes.

Elements that have stayed constant in any Maggi film include the jingle -- 'Maggi, Maggi, Maggi' in a sing-song voice, the family setting, and the 'two minutes' promise, which started off as a USP, but took a backseat eventually.

Maggi has generally stayed away from taking the celebrity endorsement route. The only exception was roping in actor, Preity Zinta for a brief period, to promote the Rs 5 Chotu Maggi and the Maggi family packs. According to Mishra, all ads for the brand usually focus on the mother-child relationship; therefore, the brand has deliberately stayed away from celebrity endorsements. "The mother and child are the celebrities for Maggi," he states.

Cooking up a nostalgic story

The latest Maggi ad opens with a voiceover, which says that one has many memories attached with Maggi over a period of 25 years. The ad is a collection of short vignettes, showcasing consumers' memories of Maggi. For instance, one child remembers eating Maggi on a camping trip; while another person remembers serving Maggi, when people were stuck in the Mumbai floods.

The ad concludes with consumers being invited to share their own Maggi story, through which they can get a chance to feature on the Maggi packs or ads. The film has been directed by Arun Gopalan from Storytellers.IN. The team that has worked on Maggi include Anindya Banerjee, Ashutosh Sawhney, Vishal Chemjong, Sudhir Das, Niloy Som, Lobsang Wangchen, Hozefa Alibhai, Istling Mirc and Smriti Chawla.

As a part of its promotional drive, Maggi has launched a website,, where consumers can upload their Maggi moments and submit their favourite Maggi recipe. Consumers, whose stories or recipes are a hit with the company, will get a chance to be featured on Maggi packs or ads.

The aftertaste

afaqs! spoke to industry professionals to find out whether this bowlful of Maggi is yummy or not.

Charles Victor, national creative director, Law & Kenneth, admits that he has grown up watching Maggi commercials, but as far as this communication is concerned, he is unsure what the attempt is. "Is it about a generation that grew up on it? Or that we've all had moments when Maggi bailed us out? Or is it to let people know Maggi has been around for 25 years? But we already know most of that!" he declares. He adds that he did connect to some of the stories showcased in the commercial and the brand still continues to connect with him, the way it did years ago.

Saji Abraham, vice-president, planning, Lowe, says that Maggi has realised that an entire generation has grown up on it and that it has a bank of nostalgia to fall back on. "This is a very interesting space for Maggi to get into and has rich potential. Imagine the strange places and memories we have attached to eating and cooking Maggi," he adds. Furthermore, he feels that nostalgia should be a theme for some time, because only a handful of brands have the privilege of accessing that.

Suchitra Gahlot, executive creative director, Bates 141, is of the opinion that everyone has their own Maggi story and everyone believes their way is the best. Coming from a real truth, the commercial does a good job of capturing these moments in people's lives. "While a story or two could be a touch more emotive, overall, I think the commercial is successful in creating a 'Me and Meri Maggi' idea," she says.

The ad is good for reinforcing brand loyalty, feel some. Says Atisihi Pradhan, senior vice- president and executive planning director, Contract, "My first reaction when I saw the ad was: Why would consumers be interested in a brand's birthday?" But she concedes that the silver jubilee is an afterthought -- what the campaign actually does is get consumers to remember why they love the brand and how it fits into their lives.

"On a personal note," she adds, having worked on the brand many moons ago, "I miss the original music score; this modern musical adaptation is not as endearing."

The new rendition of the jingle has been crafted by composer, Vipin Misra.

© 2009 afaqs!