Sunday, 10 May 2009

Flavourful World of MDH

ItalicHe is no Shah Rukh Khan. But he has been the face of a well-known spices brand in India for decades. Meet 86-year-old Mahashay Dharampal Ji, the founder of MDH — a household brand name for spices in the country. The turbaned, bespectacled patriarch of the “Deggi Mirch people” has always kept MDH ahead of competition (The company has over 80 per cent market share in the spices business). MDH swears by its ad campaign that it says is a perfect blend of exclusivity, personal touch and credibility.

MDH - A journey starting from a small hatti (shop) in karol bagh in Delhi in 1948 to being the lord and master of a Rs 500 crore business empire today, it is hard to argue with Gulati’s decision to play brand ambassador. 

Dharampal Gulati take a bow. The name may not ring a bell, but he is the sprightly old man who’s seen in each and every ad of the spices brand, MDH and is now as ubiquitous on the telly as Shahrukh, Aamir or Saif. 

One might be tempted, given the presence in each ad — right from blessing the married couple to striking a regal pose on a horse carriage — to dismiss this as an ego trip or brand the man as a narcissist given that he owns the brand. But the truth is that Gulati and the MDH brand story are in many ways intertwined much like the ingredients of the brand’s popular garma masala

MDH stands for Mahashian Di Hatti (The respected man’s shop) and the Mahashian is what Gulati is popularly known. it’s not just ads where one can see Mahashian, but even the packaging has his face.

Mahashian Ji – the brand ambassador of a renowned brand and perhaps the oldest brand ambassador as well.

Gulati’s story is like million others who faced the trauma of partition but didn’t allow the fire of enterprise to die away. Gulati, a fifth grade drop out from school tried his luck in various business with little success. Post partition, Gulati moved to Delhi, where he ventured into his ancestral business of manufacturing and selling spices. It was that day and today . It was a gradual climb to creating a name for himself as Gulati sold his spices by the brand name ‘Pal di Mirch’ (chilly powder) and ‘Pal di Haldi’ (turmeric powder) and soon gained the sobriquet of Sialkot’s ‘Deggi Mirch wale’. And Today MDH exports its spices to countries all over the world and apart from dealing in spices, MDH has also ventured into manufacturing and selling incense sticks, hing, tooth powder and soya. Apart from Delhi the other most popular market for MDH spice is Ludhiana, Uttar Pradesh, Dehradun and Amritsar. 

In a day and age when brands, in their quest to project a younger and energetic image, gun for the hottest looking face, an octogenarian,  one would think, as the face of a brand is hardly appropriate . But chances are that more television viewers are likely to remember the brand that this senior citizen endorses than they would remember about Katrina Kaif.

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