Kavita Chaudhary's Brand Surf Lagged With 175,000 Tonnes Of Sales Priced 300% Higher Than Detergent Giant Nirma, But Then Udaan Actress Entered As 'Lalita Ji' & Here's What Happened!
Kavita Chaudhary, Better Known As Lalita Ji From Surf Ads & Kalyani From Udaan, Passed Away (Picture Credit: Wikimedia & IMDB)

It was in 1984 that Lalita Ji debuted on our TV screens. Who Lalita Ji you ask? The same woman who taught us, “Surf ki kharidari mein samajhdari hai.” The woman was later known as IPS Officer Kalyani Singh from Doordarshan’s television series Udaan. Kavita Chaudhary breathed her last on February 15, 2024. She died of a heart attack on Thursday, 8.30 pm, and the funeral took place on Friday.

Kavita Ji revolutionized Indian TV with the series Udaan, which she directed and wrote as well. The series was inspired by her elder sister, Kavita Chaudhary, who was the second female IPS officer in the country after Kiran Bedi.

However, much before Udaan, Kavita Chauhary revolutionized the Indian brand Surf and helped it gain a position in the market, which was dominated by Nirma. The detergent giant was ruling with the Jingle Doodh si Safedi Nirma Se Aaye, Rangeen Kapda Bhi Khil Khil Jaaye. Sabki Pasand Nirma. The detergent market was growing in that era, and there was no competition.

When Surf came, it was priced almost 300% higher than Nirma, and its sales were confined to 25,000 tonnes against Nirma, which sold around 2,00,000 tonnes of detergent. Interestingly, Surf was priced at Rs 28/Kg, while Nirma was a much cheaper option at Rs 7/Kg. It was then that the marketing agency Lintas came up with a series of ads that featured Kavita Chaudhary as Lalita Ji.

Lalita Ji was a woman who used to save every single penny but did not compromise with her detergent, which was much higher in price, because one should not compromise when it comes to quality. The ad was conceptualized by the late Alyque Padamsee, who took inspiration from her mother once. He narrated in an interview that was quoted by Brand Equity, “He noticed his mother getting down from a Mercedes and still bargaining with the vegetable hawker. When asked why, Padamsee’s mother explained, “beta achi cheez aur sasti cheez mai fark hota hai,” and thus this value for money attitude was incorporated into Lalitaji’s DNA for the Surf Ads.”

The commercials broke the entire ad industry, and it worked for Surf, whose sales started shooting up, breaking Nirma’s monotony in the market. The ad was dubbed as much as in 16 languages. This was meant to be a tactical campaign that came out of Lintas because there were no ideas to be pitched, and they had to go with this one despite not being very keen and sold on the thought. However, the campaign ran for 18 months straight, making it one of the most successful brand campaigns in the history of commercials.

However, while Surf benefitted from the ad, Kavita Chaudhary had a firm no when she was offered an opportunity to milk this success. She refused to be the cover girl for the brand and appear on the packaging since she wanted to be known as an actress. She then shot to fame with Doordarshan’s series Udaan.

Here’s a glimpse of her Surf Excel ads:

Kavita Chaudhary was battling cancer for the past few years. She passed away in Amritsar where she was being treated. Celebs have been offering condolences to the late actress. May her soul rest in peace.

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