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Lalitaji in Surf Det ergent wars

Old Ad of Surf
A single wash
With SUPER SURF gives more
Whiteness than any other
Washing powder!

SUPER SURF has super cleaning
Power. Removes even hidden
Dirt, gives your clothes the super
Whitness others envy. No wonder
It’s India’s leading brand:
Super SURF!
SUPER SURF washes whitest of all
(and no need to add any whitening agent)
A Quality Product by HINDUSTAN LEVER

March, 1972
Agency: Lintas

HLL( Hindustan Lever Limited) was one of the first companies to manufacture detergents in India, the other company was Swastik with their product DET. HLL test marketed Surf, the blue detergent powder, between 1956 and 1958, and began manufacturing it from 1959.

Old Ad of Det3 women, 3 completely different demands. So 3 different powders? “Not necessarily”, said out Research technician. “Let’s put all 3 demands into one washing powder.”
The result:
New Triple Action DET
New Det is a whiter powder – contains a superior whitener for the whitest wash.
New Det has extra cleaning power. Removes even hidden dirt, leaves coloured clothes brightest
New Det’s richer lather contains an exclusive softerner. Safest for your clothes – safest on your hands!

March, 1972

Swastik launched Det, the white detergent powder, in 1957.
In the early 1960s, the total volume of detergents manufactured in India grew from around 1600 tonnes to 8000 tonnes. Surf soon became the market leader with presence and distribution over all of the country except eastern India - here Det dominated the market. Between them they covered 70% and 25% of the market respectively.

The 1973 oil crisis lead to the increase in the input costs for detergent powders. The crisis lead to a sharp rise in the price of washing powders. The price of Surf almost doubled in 1974-75. Despite this, Surf continued to be the market leader. It was only in the late 1970s that Surf challenged by a low priced detergent 'Nirma'.

Read more about detergent wars here

In mid '80s the woman in the Surf Ad got a name - Lalitaji - and was brought to life on television by Kavita Chaudhary in a TV commercial with the tag line “ SURF ki Kharidari mai hi Samajdari hai ( It makes better sense to buy Surf)”. They were fighting a soapy detergent war against Nirma. Nirma, in turn, had found an icon of its own in a young little girl swirling around in a skirt – the Nirma girl. The Ad jingle for Nirma was the clincher:

“Washing powder Nirma, washing powder Nirma
Dudh si safeedi, Nirma se aaye
Rangeen kapda bhi khil khil jaye

Thoda sa powder aur jhag dher sara
Rekha, Jaya, Geeta aur Sushma
Sabki pasand Nirmaaaa. Washing powder Nirma. Nirma.”

In place of “Khil Khil jaye”, I used to hear them singing “Silly Silly jaye” and believed it to be so for the longest time.


Bhai saab, aagar itni saari safedi yadee kaam dam me mile to koi yeh kyoun le, yeh na le

I have seen a lot of people link that line with Surf. I don’t know if remembering all this is more idiotic or forgetting it is. The fact is that only “Bhai Sahab” part is from Surf, the line "aagar itni saari safedi kaam damo may mile toh koi yeh kyo le woh na le" was from Nirma Super Ad that featured (oh ho!) Deepikaji (Ramayan's Sitaji) and Ameen Sayni. The response of Ameen Sayani to her was the clincher:

Ameen Sayani: “Maan gaye!”
Deepika: “Kisay?”
Ameen Sayani: “Aap ki paakhi nazar aur Nirma Super. Dono Ko!”


A previous post Nostalgic about the 80s
Check out rest of the Vintage Ads here


  1. hey buddy!
    had quite a few early morning lolz recalling many of the old ads.. i guess i was lucky enough to be born just before the TV boom as i call it, and was able to see some of these taglines myself..

    but, this isn't just a thanks note. i would also like to suggest a correction. in the nirma super ad script you have given at the end of this page, its her 'paarkhi nazar'(discerning), not paakhi as you have given.
    thanks again!


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