about 1 year ago
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By Ruma Dubey

It’s a holiday mood all around as school and colleges are closed and the year is coming to an end. The mood is festive and celebratory and hopeful; no one wants to get into some serious thinking as the overall mood is light. No cerebral pressure and no taxing the grey matter.

So here is a breezy and ‘light’ article; another one down the memory lane. Sometimes it is necessary to look back to know how far ahead we have come.

Do you recollect the jingle, “Only Vimal, Only Vimal….”

It was probably one of the first advertisements for fabrics on Doordarshan and the brand which made Reliance into a household name. It was the brand which made the country sit up and take notice of Dhirubhai Ambani and also the brand which made Mudra Communications, the ad agency which is amongst the top notch ad agencies of India today. It was the first brand to use cricketers as brand ambassadors – Sir Vivian Richards and Allan Border.

There was always this curiosity – why the name “Vimal?” And it was only much later, as the brand built up that we came to know that it was named after Dhirubhai's nephew, Vimal Ambani, son of his elder brother Ramniklal, who till 2016 was the RIL board, the oldest member; he was replaced by Nita Ambani. He stepped down as he was 90 years young.

It was Ramnikbhai who helped Dhirubhai set up Reliance’s first textile mill at Naroda in 1966 and naming the fabric “Vimal” was Dhirubhai’s way of trying to express gratitude. Vimal was more famous than the sons – Anil and Mukesh!

Four to five years ago, Mukesh Ambani had put this iconic brand on the sale block. But for reasons known to them, either due to lack of buyers or on account of not getting the right price or maybe having Mukesh Ambani having second thoughts, this sale just did not go through.

It would have been indeed very foolish to sell this brand because it holds so much sentimental value. This is the division that launched Reliance into every nook and corner of India, is instrumental in making Reliance what it is today. And thus seemed unlikely even then that Mukesh Ambani, for a few dollars more, that too when he is the richest Indian, would part with this iconic brand.

Yet, despite this, over the past few years, from 2000 to 2007, the brand was in oblivion, and it made a comeback only in 2007. It was re-launched in a new format, new fabrics, with differentiated price points and offerings under sub-brands such as Vimal Red, Vimal White and Vimal Black.

Today this brand is getting all the attention that it deserves and Reliance is working on changing the brand positioning. From being a saree or suiting/shirting textile, the brand is now positioned as a youth-oriented, affordable fashion label. It has set itself the target of doubling the sales to Rs.1800 crore from this brand alone.

Why we have highlighted this story today? Some brands like ‘Only Vimal’ are a part of folklore and many a times, represents the rise of a new company, a new icon. ‘Only Vimal’ was that and more for Reliance Industries – it was recognsied as ‘Vimal company’. Thus some brands will remain, will get reinvented and remodeled as long as the company is alive. It’s a pity that brands like Orkay and Garden which ruled the roost those days are no longer around.

Yes, some brands need to stay around because they represent a piece of history.

PS: Vimal Ambani, the man whose name became the iconic ‘Only Vimal’ brand is today the man behind Tower Overseas Ltd,  is a leading supplier of signage materials for the outdoor and indoor signage industry.

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