There was a time when polish was synonymous with ‘Cherry Blossom’ – the iconic shoe-polish brand. Almost every Indian home stocked the little tins. So when the brand was faced with stagnating sales, a team of experts scrambled to make Indians fall in love with it again.

In 1906, two brothers – Dan and Charles Mason from Chiswick, UK – came up with a wax-based shoe polish that didn’t transfer onto clothing and lasted through the day. 

Although it wasn’t the only wax-based polish available back then, their innovative marketing strategy made their product ‘Cherry Blossom’ an instant hit across the UK.

With the outbreak of WWI, there was a surge in demand for polished leather products, such as army boots and belts, and, in turn, polish (especially one that wouldn’t rub off onto clothes). This further drove sales of ‘Cherry Blossom,’ and it quickly became popular worldwide.




India, which was still under British rule, became a large market for the brand. However, after a long run (lasting well into the 80s), Cherry Blossom’s sales began to plateau, with more and more people caring less about the shine on their shoes. Shoe polishing had become a chore. 

The monumental task of reviving the brand was given to Lintas, a renowned creative agency – a household name in India till date. Led by Pronab Ghose, Rema Ezra, and Anand Bhardwaj from Lintas’s Calcutta team, the group had to devise a compelling strategy quickly.

After extensive brainstorming and several sleepless nights, the team came up with four ideas, one of which involved reimagining the beloved king of comedy, Charlie Chaplin.

The creative team presented a Pavlovian concept which aimed to associate the dull task of shoe polishing with a cheerful image, thereby making the mundane chore seem enjoyable.

They introduced their own storyline and a character named ‘Cherry Chaplin,’ a tramp who, despite his shabby appearance, wins at life and love by polishing his shoes with ‘Cherry Blossom.’ Once the idea was finalized, it was time to cast the right person who could recreate Chaplin’s persona.

Following numerous screen tests, veteran TV actor Rajesh Puri was finally selected for the role, and in 1983 ‘Cherry Chaplin’ came to life. The success of the commercials not only rejuvenated sales but the campaign also garnered multiple awards at the prestigious Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.

The international recognition did come with its share of controversy though. The Charlie Chaplin Museum Foundation in the USA challenged the legal use of Chaplin’s work without any copyright. 

However, the dispute was quickly resolved as no photographs, clips or stories from Chaplin’s works were used in the commercials.

The ‘Cherry Chaplin’ campaign, through laughter and nostalgia, helped the brand hit its sweet spot but more importantly, it ensured people wouldn’t be forgetting to shine their brogues with ‘Cherry Blossom’ anytime soon. 

The good ol’ polish was here to stay.


Sources & Images:,1906,quickly%20becomes%20a%20huge%20success.

“A Cherry Blossom in your shoes”.