The other day, I was watching an episode of a kid sitcom with my toddler when he nudged me, pointing to the screen, “Mumma, look at that laptop! That strawberry logo is so cool!” Like any regular mom, my reflex was, “Damn, did my kid’s ability to differentiate between apples and strawberries erode away?” But one glance at the Mac’s logo, and I was relieved that this was not the case.
Many times, you may have noticed that brand logos are concealed by skilfully placed stickers in shows or movies. Some do it so that they don’t get smacked with a licensing fee or, even worse, run into legal conundrums for portraying brands in a negative light (yes, something from the other end of the product placement spectrum).
A case in point would be Bata in Jolly LLB, where they equate the brand to ‘cheap’ shoes with a certain dialogue. Some are lucky enough to go unnoticed by the brand, especially if the movie is unbearably unwatchable, like the (mis)placement of Lion Dates (valla avashyam undarno?) in Rain, Rain Come Again with the comment, “Ee chappu chavaronnum njan thinnarilla”, which is probably one of the reasons why filmmakers steer away from using “real world” brand names and create fictional brands in movies.
Anyhow, today, we take a peek at a few of the most memorable brands or company names from Malayalam movies.
Old may be gold, but gold is bold and bold is gold! No, wait, don’t hurl rotten tomatoes at me for the cringe quotient of this line cuz it is barely mine! In fact, this is what Pranchiyettan thought would be an apt tagline for his jewellery brand, Cherammel Jewellery. Not gonna lie, but we need to give him some hefty credit for the alliteration in the tagline! And need I say, the Thrissur style rendition that would put ‘janakodikalude vishwastha sthapanam’ to shame any day?
We are all hearts when we think of the quaint and no-frills Bhavana studio that was the panipura of the simple lad, Mahesh of Maheshinte Prathikaram, where he directs people to move their “chin up, shoulder down, chin podik down…” to get the perfect shot. A fictional business, alright, but I’d like to quote this as a classic example of reverse product placement – which is simply the phenomenon when brand names invented for pop culture get extrapolated into the real world (think Wonka chocolate bars, inspired by Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Thanks to this studio from the blockbuster movie, Maheshinte Prathikaram, Fahad and team didn’t have to rummage their brains for naming their entertainment venture.
Who can forget this cosy cafe that oozes inimitable charm and is run by none other than George of Premam? The pristine white interiors with wooden pillars and benches exude rustic allure, capturing our attention from the first frame. And didn’t all of our mouths go agape when George’s masterpiece creation, the Red Velvet cake, made its appearance on Celine’s table, and she meticulously dug into the utterly buttery and ultra moist crimson dream (am I digressing?…of course I can, it’s food, after all!) As most of you all recognise, the cafe portrayed in this movie is Fort Kochi’s favourite cafe, Pepper House.
When Vijayan turned his back on his debt-ridden family, I felt bad but not half as bad as I felt when the Parimala soap ad was panned and shelved (oppam chaadan vechirunna camera rakshapettu though). I mean, c’mon, how different is it from a 90s Lux ad, anyway? Okay, maybe there is no kid running towards the lady and calling “Mummyyy”, or she isn’t doing junglee Tarzan-like manoeuvres in the water, but I would barely be exaggerating if I said, “Ente meni azhakinte rahasyam parimala soap” withstood the test of time. Brand recall 25 years later, yo!
While we are on the topic of brands that died on the vine, struggling businesses and brand recall, it would be a crime not to bring Sethumadhavan’s Dakshayani biscuits to the table. Much to our pleasure, in the recent movie Minnal Murali we caught a glimpse of a packet that proudly bears the name of the biscuit brand alongside a widely grinning tot (probably one of the few brands in this list that has a logo associated with it). Lo and behold, all our doubts of its existence were dispelled in no time! Yup, it’s time to seek comfort in the very fact that Dakshayani is indeed up and running!
It’s probably the last name you’ll imagine for an incense stick made of elephant dung (which is, again, a virtually unimaginable idea), but that doesn’t make the brand any less lovable! And in case you thought the whole idea was crass, you might want to know that Joy Thakkolkaran went one step ahead in the sequel Punyalan Private Ltd by offering tetra packs of drinking water with elephant urine as its constituent.
K and K Automobiles
I randomly googled K and K automobiles and was stoked to find a company under the same name on JustDial. Obviously, I did that for most other names on this list (so far) but hit the jackpot only with this ‘80s gem that thrives on “doing a car” that’s got its “engine out commmbleeetely”. Again, this is another example of reverse product (in this case, service) placement. Hope there’s no chap called Narayanan Kutty who’d rather inspect women than automotive vehicles, working in the real-world K and K!
KD and Company
With Shathru’s dialogue, “KD Company il joli cheyyanam ennathu ente anthyabilsham…sorry…jeevithabhilasham ayirunnu” we would think that this company had all the potential in the world to foray into the “Great Place to Work” 2000 edition. But one word with Muthuraman, KD and Company’s official bullock cart driver and his revelation of “being a manager at KD”, being equivalent to “getting regularly beaten up” will make you do a complete flip-flop. Hell, yes, the name KD and Company still holds a special place in our hearts!
Manavalan and Sons
I absolutely cannot wrap up this list without mentioning the jewel in the crown – Malayalikalude swantham Manavalan and Sons, simply because as well as the reason as possible (if you know, you know!). I’m not sure how his financing company is doing now, but he has carved a cult status for himself, taking over the Whatsapp meme sticker galleries of millions of people. Personal branding, level infinity ennallathe enthu parayan!
So, that was my list, which by no means was comprehensive. So, I’d love to hear what other company/brand names you’d wanna add to the list. Fire away in the comment section!
PS For those of you wondering why Gadha Jam didn’t make it to this list, it is simply because it is fiction within fiction!