• By Arundhuti
  • / June 21, 2019
  • / Business

Paper Boat

Drinks and Memories

 Hector’s range of ethnic beverages, Paper Boat, has been rekindling childhood memories with its unique design and concept since 2013. The company aims to preserve traditional recipes while using innovation to make a range of indigenous Indian drinks such as Aam Panna, Jaljeera and Aam Ras, accessible to an urban market.

When 4 innovative minds started sailing on a ship together, it became a ‘friendship’. This friendship evolved with a whiff of Nostalgia, the “Fantastic 4” – as they’re often called – and took GenX by storm!

India takes delight from drinks made from local fruits, spices, flowers, even pulses. These drinks were everywhere a few decades ago. You could get them either at home or at the street vendors. But today they are rare treats. The vendors are victims to hygiene consciousness and people are either too busy or don’t know the recipes. This is where Paper Boat sailed in – as an experiment, though – only to hit the right chord of the human sentiments.

Marketing, Promotion & Branding

The name Paper Boat and their tag line, ‘Drinks and Memories’ aims at re-connecting the consumers to their childhood with the help of nostalgia and simplicity in its storytelling campaign. Remember your first craft lesson; your first rain when you were allowed to go out and get wet; your first sense of accomplishment – a paper boat signifies many more firsts. Any drink can taste good or be filled with nutrition, but, how many drinks tell you a story?

The target audience was crafted with a view to reach out to the ‘90’s kids’ by recreating the return to an innocent and naïve time that everyone associates with the grand epithet of “the good old days” through the combination of animation that reminds one of simpler times, and music and poetry that matches a quaint, old-worldly charm. This awakened sense of nostalgia has converted Paper Boat from a utilitarian good a hedonic good.

There was no aggressive marketing strategy. They started advertising only after 3 years of launch, made its first appearance as one of the beverage options served on low-cost carriers like Indigo and SpiceJet. They then tied up with modern trade stores such as supermarket chain Food World, HyperCity, Nilgiris and Namdhari’s Fresh and placed it in 500 stores across four Indian metros. How does that help? Modern retail is a conducive environment for people to experiment. Consumers can pick and choose for themselves.

The innovation of spinning stories around a product is what turned all eyes towards Paper Boat. But what did they do differently? Made a place for their product in the niche market, pinpointed the exact rationale behind its being, and dropped the innovative bomb with the product design, feel, name, and position.

Their illustrations make us go back to the stage of ‘innocence’. They are everything that defines Paper Boat – Nostalgia, mother’s love, sweaty summer vacations, lazy afternoons, Galli cricket, first rain, childhood games, tiffin period…the good ol’ innocent times. Their special focus has always been on Instagram – making sure that there’s always something original and appealing for the Instagram fans. Variety is the keyword here, from real-time videos to modified photographs, they have done it all!

To bring out the child in everyone, apart from its television ads, the brand also released a range short films such as ‘Ride Down the River of Memories’, ‘Waiting for Ma’, ‘My Struggles with the Treasure Chest’ and ‘Hum honge kamyab’. Paper Boat’s marketing was on-point when Rudyard Kipling’s ‘The Jungle Book’ was remade by Director Jon Favreau and released earlier this year. ‘The Jungle Book’ being a popular cartoon show at home in the early 90’s tapped the Paper Boat TG, and taking the opportunity at hand, Paper Boat reprinted the timeless classic and once again turned heads towards themselves. They were offering the audience the reprint – a limited edition – at a comparatively low cost.

The primary challenge that Paper Boat’s facing, is to make sure the consumer wants to buy their brand product, instead of the flavour. People are now suddenly spoilt for choice when it comes to RTD ethnic beverages – especially with Dabur upping the game by bringing in their ready-to-drink product ‘Yoodley’. While the market may still be at a very nascent stage for the RTD beverages, Paper Boat has set sail at a very early stage and has picked up a high pace.

Paper Boat took the word ‘optimization’ to a new level when they started with their non-promotional digital campaigns. They just drew us a story, and we lapped it up. The stories were coherent, connected, and devoid of any jerks. They crafted a content marketing strategy so original, that at this point, one has to take just a single look at their artwork to identify the brand. The brand recall value is at its peak.

The brand, for now, is hoping to have some successful gigs with its bunch of loyalists and hoping to convert the uninvolved


One of the key features of Paper Boat is its packaging. From both aesthetic and functional perspective, the packaging is very unique and appealing to the customers. Made of a four-part laminate, Paper Boat is packaged with two outer layers that blend of proprietary polypropylene which makes the pack withstand extreme pressure and heat while at the same time being easy to open.

The standee pouches in a substrate that look & feel like paper, gives the feeling of squeezing fruit and drinking its juice. This packaging not only brings in differentiation and authenticity but also, reflects the simplicity and purity of the drink inside. Flat colours, simple shapes and a pack language reminiscent of the childhood landscape, all contribute to the delightful nostalgia that the brand is all about.

Since they’re packed in squishy pouches as they are easy to carry and is a part of the brand’s appeal in urban India, the upper-middle class who took to frequent air travels became the key influencers of the brand because they aren’t that price-conscious.

Anchor down

Paper boat has positioned itself as a brand of traditional Indian juices and drinks. All its variants have ‘Indianness’ and innocence pouring out of them which they have beautifully portrayed through their marketing campaigns. Amid a disruptive startup market, they played their ‘experimental entrepreneurship’ card extremely well. Simplicity blended with innovation led the way to a brand-new marketing strategy (disruptive in its way) and created a niche that can’t be trumped over. It’s a classic example that shows design is not only about product packaging or marketing deliverables but should reside ingrained right from the business values to the most micro-est of brand communications.

Behind every successful brand, there is a great product. Behind every successful product, there is a great story.