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BACKSTORY: How Ranveer 'Ching' propelled India's biggest desi Chinese brand into a new orbit

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In this 2018 interview, Capital Food founder Ajay Gupta spoke about the reason for getting into the business of desi Chinese cuisine, how he chose the name of brand and its brand ambassador.

Most popular street food has its origins in UP, Gujarat, Maharashtra, South India and even Punjab. And yet, the cuisine that has emerged as a unifier across the board has been desi Chinese.
“Chinese food was available on the streets, which then means that the common man loved it,” said Ajay Gupta, founder of Capital Food, which owns the popular ready- to-make food brand Ching's Secret, on his decision to get into the business of Chinese food.
“If the common man loves it, then the wife, mother, sister, say I want to make it at home. That is where the food ingredient business begins.
Desi chinese is our cuisine..the word Chinese in it is incidental..it is very us...the same way we adopted samosa,tandoor, naan which were not our dishes to begin with,” he said.
Two ingredients were missing in the Chinese served by Indian street stalls – one was the desi twist, and the second was a common name under which it could be identified instantly
When the brand ‘Ching’s Secret’ made an entry in 1995, the entire spectrum of Chinese cuisine in India was poised for a mammoth disruption.
But why the name Ching's? “We began by actually being wanting to create an authentic Chinese and the last Chinese dynasty was the Qing (pronounced Ching) dynasty under which the Chinese cuisine really became finer- it evolved in that and that’s how the name Ching came in,” Gupta told CNBC-TV18’s Mangalam Maloo.
The translation was complete as the cuisine, along with the culture emerged out of the melting pot bearing a desi identity--Chings.
But what took this brand to dizzying heights was the nation’s second obsession – Bollywood!
Having reached a certain threshold level in terms of revenues, Capital Food had the money to spend on advertising and wanted to widen the reach of the brand among masses.
Gupta drew on his experience as an advertiser and decided to rope in what he termed ‘a national religion’ to promote a national obsession.
“To quickly get to the mass level I needed the Bollywood connect,” said Gupta. “However we were also very clear we didn't want a Bollywood actor to just be there and say “Kale Lambe Ghane Baal”, he said.
His hunt for the right Bollywood star culminated in Ranveer Singh transforming into to Ranveer Ching! It was probably only the second time an actor’s name was integrated with a brand, since Shahrukh ‘Mayur’ Khan in 1995. (Shahrukh Khan was the first brand ambassador for Mayur Suitings)
“We wanted somebody who had the essence of the brand in his brand and that’s where we got in touch with Ranveer,” Gupta said. It helped that like Gupta, Singh too was in the advertising industry before becoming an actor.
The ads were a runaway success as the actor not acted in the ad films, but also ensured that he was part of the strategy meetings of the brand’s marketing team.
Ranveer made a big difference to the brand and how.
“When we did the song the first time which was in 2014, we were more a modern trade driven company, we were in some 60,000 stores. 18 months down the line we were in 1,50,000 stores, “ Gupta said.
“Then we came in and said let's do a blockbuster film from one song to a film and that's when we went to Rohit Shetty and our distribution moved to like 2,75,000 stores. So he just added 1,00,000 stores with it.
Again this is an example, on the 9th of October, we launched the film on social media, on the 15th of October I got an order from the US, Chicago for one container of Schezwan Chutney - man Bollywood works, Ranveer Singh ultimately works,” Gupta said.
Was Ching’s served at Ranveer Ching’s wedding? Well, take a guess...

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