Freebirds Stories
All hail the Kachua!

During the second half of the 20th century, as India witnessed rapid urbanization, it brought in a host of new problems like large scale encroachments, waterlogging, overflowing drains etc. One of the direct consequences of such an unhygienic environment was the proliferation of mosquitoes, which had become a huge menace throughout the nation.


While the Govts felt helpless, it was the Indian Entrepreneurs who tried to come up with innovative solutions, and one such quick-fix was the repellant sticks which produced a lot of smoke to drive away mosquitoes. However, their main drawback was that they usually burnt out quickly within 2-3 hours, after which the mosquitoes would have a gala time till sunrise.


There was finally some relief in the early 1970s, when Bombay Chemicals came up with a revolutionary concept in the form of a spiral coil which burnt at such a slow rate that it could easily last for atleast 8 hours, thereby allowing the families to have peaceful sleep for the whole night. The next challenge was in coming up with a brand name.


Since Tortoise is highly revered in Indian culture as the destroyer of evil, the company chose the name Tortoise, as the coil also played the role of destroying the evil mosquitoes. Moreover, since Tortoise is known for its slow-speed & longevity, the company tried to convey the idea that their coil was also like a Tortoise, as it worked at very slow-rate & lasted longer compared to rivals.


With some innovative marketing strategies including the legendary "Kachua jalao machar bhagao" radio jingles, the Tortoise brand became a household name. After ruling the roost for more than 2 decades, Tortoise brand started witnessing a gradual decline due to much better products from rivals, which included innovative products like mosquito-mats, liquid vaporizers, etc.


By the turn of the century, the Tortoise brand was acquired by Bayer, which tried to revive it, but soon lost interest and turned it into just another "me-too" brand which eventually lost prominence. However, such is its strong brand recall among old timers that even today, most of them tend to refer to mosquito coils in general as Tortoise/Kachua, thereby keeping its legacy still alive.

Story by
Guru Prasad

Guruprasad (or “GP” in short) is a Chief Engineer & Technology Mentor by profession and spends a...

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