Coke charts a chequered course in India

By , agencyfaqs! | In Advertising | January 30, 2001
Developed in a brass pot in 1886, Coca-Cola is the most recognized and admired trademark around the globe. In India, however, it has had a chequered history

agencyfaqs! News Bureau

Developed in a brass pot in 1886, Coca-Cola is the most recognized and admired trademark around the globe. Not to mention the best-selling soft drink in the world. In India, however, it has had a chequered history.

When Coke returned to India (after being shown the door by the Janata Government in 1977), it tried using 'nostalgia' as the communications peg. Much of its advertising, devised by McCann, was directed at the Coke consumer of yesteryear. However, this did not cut much ice as the Coke consumer had moved on in life - and outside the ambit of colas. And, of course, the younger generation was totally taken in by Pepsi's irreverence.

After poking around in the dark for quite a while, Coke finally figured that there were two things that moved the Indian consumer - movies and cricket. Coke's first really concerted effort at addressing the Indian consumer happened during the 1994 Cricket World Cup, which was played in the subcontinent. It's 'Passion has a colour' campaign brought alive the beauty of maidan cricket, but was sadly drowned by Pepsi's 'Nothing official...' campaign.

All this while, the one piece of advertising from Coke that got noticed was its Diwali promos. Meanwhile, Pepsi was running away with the ball when global realignment brought the Coke brand to Leo Burnett's door. One of the first efforts by Leo Burnett was its cricket-fan centric campaign... the one where fervent cricket fans run down Indian cricketers for not trying hard enough. The proposition was 'So much heat needs a lot of cooling.'

When Pepsi upped the ante by pressing the charm of Shah Rukh Khan (who was always a Pepsi endorser), Kajol and Rani Mukherjee in action, in the second half of 1998, Coke roped in two entertainment celebrities for itself - Daler Mehendi and Karisma Kapoor. By that time the brand had changed agency and moved to Leo Burnett. Coke fired its first movie-centric salvo. This was followed by the Aamir Khan-Twinkle Khanna commercial, where, for the first time, Coke got into the 'romance' angle. 'Pyaar, mohabbat, Coca-Cola' was the line.

This was followed by the Aamir-Ash 'love over the Net' ad. Then came the Aamir-Jyotika commercial where love blossomed in the rain. And to put across the point, Coke went to great lengths to showcase the brand as a catalyst in the budding romance between Aishwarya and Akshaye Khanna in Taal.

Then, of course, Hrithik happened. And though Pepsi too lobbied hard to get the hunk to endorse the brand, Coke eventually won. Coke's first ad with Hrithik - loosely based on Kaho Na Pyaar Hai - got a mixed response. However, the latest Coke film where Hrithik tap dances his way into the woman's heart has apparently been a stupendous success - with Coke finally edging past Pepsi in terms of ad recall.

Now, as Coca-Cola is poised to enter the portals of Lowe Lintas & Partners, the task seems to be cut out for the new agency and the new team at the helm of Coke's Indian operations.

© 2001 agencyfaqs!