Nawabs Nudes Noodles – India through 50 years of advertising- BOOK REVIEW

By | June 24, 2016

Most in advertising will agree to the statement that ‘Advertising is a self-evolving art’. The problem and the debate start when advertising is expected to capture the essence of the era or as a catalyst accelerates societal norms.

NAWABS NUDES NOODLES by Ambi Parameswaran also raised this issue while capturing 50 years of Indian advertising, The book takes you through the changing vignette of Indian advertising across few spectrums. And Ambi has been able to avoid author’s skew while capturing it.

AMBI bookI am more than happy with the book. I have been on record to say that the book needed a lot many pages to do justice to the subject. However, I will live with 80,000 words and 265 pages of rich narrative.

I am happy. It is not a historical narrative through decades, a history through agency’s eyes or a history through the brands and their movement. Ambi has rightly taken a hard decision to capture it through shifts across few of the categories reflecting the country’s culture, politics and economy in the last fifty years.

To me with 28 years in this field, there was a lot to be reminded of. Many people, campaigns and incidents flashed before me as if it was happening right then. Some brought smile and some were even the OOH and AAHA moments. I am not sure if that would be the reaction of people with few years or who are in the management institutes getting ready to join the industry.

I am quoting from the book cover ‘Combining anecdote and analyses to give us a slice of modern history. Ambi evaluates the relationship between affluence, aspiration and desire in India. Exploring trends and impacts, he covers the ads that captured the imagination of the entire country. From ‘Only Vimal‘ and ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan‘ to



Jo biwi se kare pyaar’ and the controversial Tuffs shoes campaign, the book is a memorable journey through brands, consumers and the world of advertising.’

The 50 years of advertising history and reflection of changing societal fabric is presented in four sections; PEOPLE, PRODUCTS, SERVICES and AD NARRATIVES.

I must mention the chapter ‘The Last Word’, here the author presents 10 mega trends in advertising. For many like me, this is the most relevant part of the book.

PEOPLE section open with Man ‘The (In) Complete Man’. It changes gear to discuss changes in Growing Kids– ‘I Am A Complan Girl !I Am A Complan Boy!’, Teens- ‘The Tingling Freshness’, the changes in grownup elders in the family- ‘Ab Main Bilkul Boodha Hoon, Goli Kha Kar Jeeta Hoon!’ to now getting ready to travel across the world and then presents the erstwhile symbol of husband’s love for his wife, the ‘Prestige pressure cooker’. It ran the ad ‘Jo Biwi Sey Kare Pyaar….’ for a long time. As per the author ‘Jo Biwi Sey Kare Pyaar… ‘ was first considered as the title for the book.

PRODUCTS take you on a journey. It covers Suiting, Automobiles, including iconic ‘Hamara Bajaj’, Paints and Mobile a recent category that has dominated and reflects changing societal fabric. No one can forget the clutter breaker ‘Har eek ghar Zaroori Hota Hai’

SERVICES  starts with the welcoming ‘Baraatiyon Ka Swagat’, moves along to insurance ‘Zindagi Ke Saath Bhi, Zindagi Ke Baad bhi!’, Tourism- opens with a bang on ‘God’s Own Country’, Shifting job scene and increasing candidate passion as well as expectations ‘Hankari: H for Hitler, A for Arrogant’ and ends with ‘Asli Swaad Hai Cricket Ka’

AD NARRATIVE  checks on the style, images, audio with the wonderful Amul ‘Doodh Doodh Doodh…..”, to hugely poplar in its time ‘Bole mere lips, I love uncle chips’ and end with the changing norms. The story when showing navel of a model in a TVC was objected by DD, is something the younger generation will laugh at.

Whatever I may say or find reasons to complain ( which I d0), there is no way one can take away from Ambi the credit and appreciation for the excellent work he has done. It is in many ways even an industry chronicle, though it is not meant to be one.

The writing is easy and smooth. There is not much of jargon in the book. It makes it so much mass. The narratives do manage to bring alive the communication or the theme being referred to. There is a lot still that can be covered, analysed and shared on Indian advertising. I do hope there is more to come from Ambi or someone else on this fascinating debate of leading the societal change or reflecting the moods of time.

I have two major grudges with the book.

Very less space has been given for each of the subjects chosen to track the history of advertising in India, I am told it was due to the limit of the number of words and pages, which ultimately affects the cost and that in turn defines success.

I understand. However, as a selfish reader I do feel shortchanged. I would have appreciated many volumes capturing and chronicling sometime mild and in many segment’s tectonic shifts in Indian society and advertising industry.

Advertising is an art that used visual- and audio senses. The amount of pictures and story board shared were no way representative of the work done. The 45 plus generation has the advantage of going into deep nostalgia and to enjoy every page in the book. The new generation may not even know about them. In the absence of these references, the value of this mammoth work decreases. Expecting readers to search the Internet for the links and reference advertisement is too much to expect.

To quote Prabhakar Mundkar ‘Without this book, nearly five decades of advertising in India might have been lost to posterity. Ambi Parameswaran has painstakingly chronicled almost every significant ad campaign that ran from the ’70s till date. Nawabs Nudes Noodles is going to be an asset to the students of advertising, to those in the teaching profession and even to ordinary consumers, who now seem to have as much of an opinion on advertising as they have on cricket or politics.’

There could have been a site where all these referenced advertisements could have been made available. Ambi tells me that many brands refused to share their work. Copyright issues prevented him to carry them without brand owner’s consent. On the other hand, it is worth mentioning that Ambi could access all the ads he refers in the book.

I am surprised that some of these reputed brands  in their own myopic wisdom have refused to share iconic representative work of the industry. It solves no real purpose in the information parity era. Once you create an advertisement and place it in public domain, why cringe and why block. Anyway, they will have their reasons.

While I flipped pages and read the book, I was happy to note that there were few of the campaigns I worked on, that found mention in the book.

I have earlier read three of his books; ‘For God’s Sake- an adman on the business of religion’, ‘Building Brand Value: Five Steps to Building Powerful Brands’ and ‘FCB-Ulka Brand Building Advertising: Concepts and Cases.’

I did not know that this was his eighth book. , But if I based on the three books, I have read. I am sure others will be equally worth reading.



Ambi’s other books are ‘Strategic Brand Management’ (with Kevin Lane Keller and Isaac Jacob), ‘DraftFCB + Ulka: Brand Building Advertising – Case Book II’ (with Kinjal Medh), ‘Ride the Change: A perspective on the Changing Indian Consumer, Market and Marketing’ and ‘Understanding Consumers: Building Powerful Brands Using Consumer Research’