Was surfing the website of Air-India today to book a ticket & suddenly I saw our very own Maharaja in different avtaars there, like Maharaja with a laptop on home page & Maharaja with Indian flag near log in box. Though the size of Maharaja was definitely reduced but nonetheless noticeable enough! In fact I think as a kid my understanding of the word “brand” or “mascot” was only limited to either AI’s Maharaja or AP’s Gattu and its that solid imprint on my childhood memory that even slightest trace of Maharaja ji or cute Gattu catches my attention till date.
Air India had adopted this Maharaja mascot in 1946 symbolizing an Indian Maharaja kind of person welcoming passengers from all across the world on board, if I’m not wrong this Maharaja is one of the longest lived & most recalled mascots till date. But then today this mascot made me really thinking esp. because of all the reasons for which Air India has been in news of late. Now with Rs. 5000 crore loss last fiscal year due to operating costs, day on day ongoing loss of approx Rs. 15 crore & plans to cut down on quite many travel sectors, does Air India stand anything to do with royalty in these days? Well, I know the mascot was not chosen for exact representation of royalty only but then to a common man the image as well as the word Maharaja has always meant to communicate the same. With Air India being in news for only huge losses and other sorry state of affairs I personally think this Maharaja is a mismatch with the overall perception of the company. A Bankrupt Maharaja instead of Maharaja is what it makes me feel about it now . Rationally speaking, I think it’s time for AI to re-look at its mascot, it has outgrown its own perception today and I can see some sort of disconnect here. Though I’m sure there must be nostalgic / emotional reasons for the company to still continue with the same.
Would like to know your views on this. Does this Maharaja suit AI’s current image? Do you think AI should bid farewell to this Maharaja now?