afaqs!

The message of a mango in a bottle

By Devina Joshi , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | May 29, 2008
Three mango drink brands are fighting to don the role of the authentic mango in their advertising. Here's why

Summer is & #BANNER1 & # here and with it comes the hurricane of ads for air-conditioners, cool soaps and talcs, soft drinks/ juice drinks and particularly, mango drinks. Turning on the heat this season is a simmering fight between three mango drink brands - the fight to be the original mango drink. The three brands slugging it out in the ring are Maaza, Frooti and Slice, and the fight has only begun.

All three brands have, in some form or the other, substituted the actual mango fruit with the respective product in their advertising, claiming to be as good, if not better, than the real thing. The creative routes adopted may be different, but they all lead to similar conclusions. Allow us to explain.

Maaza: Fun with mangoes

Maaza: the seedless mango?
Maaza was launched in 1976. In 1993, it was acquired by Coca-Cola India. Since then, its advertising has centred round the fun element of consuming the drink, with creatives such as 'Khule Aam Badmashi' doing the rounds. "Back then, the category was too nascent to try anything else," says Sainath Saraban, executive creative director, Leo Burnett (Maaza's agency).

Only in 2006 did the brand evolve into claiming the mango premise completely: Satish Shah was brought in to endorse the brand and the three ads released since - Maali, Khadoos Uncle (neighbour), and this year's Bina Gutli Wala Aam - had the mango as a fruit replaced by the drink brand. The ads even showed Maaza bottles hanging from mango trees, instead of the fruit.

According to a Coca-Cola spokesperson, "It takes years to make such a strong statement as 'Bina Gutli Wala Aam' for any mango drink brand! It's a sign of brand evolution. Much like the Xerox photocopier story where the brand becomes generic to the product category." Well said, but the jury is still out, eating (or drinking) mangoes, we bet.

Slice: A slice of the mango pie

Katrina Kaif endorsing Slice
Launched in 1994, Slice didn't advertise too aggressively in its initial years. From 2002, the brand actually took a break from advertising altogether. However, 2006 onwards, its communication was revived with ads such as 'Simple Joys Ka Ras'. In the next year, with 'Pyar Ho Jaayega', PepsiCo's Slice turned towards the mango as a brand building route, while also adding an element of naughtiness.

Now, the passion of mangoes has been leveraged with 'Aamsutra', an attempt to derive the same kind of pleasure from the drink that one gets from real mangoes. According to Homi Battiwalla, vice-president, emerging categories, PepsiCo India, a mango's seasonality makes it aspirational and it is obvious for the fruit heritage to filter into the brand. "As fun and frolic have been associated with mango drink advertising forever, we thought of introducing the sensuality element of mangoes," he says.

In certain cultures (Indonesian, Thai and even Indian), poets and artists have viewed mangoes as a tool of seduction (they are often an offering of love to the gods). From this love, JWT derived the sensual positioning (which is often a chocolate/ liquor brand's territory) for Aamsutra. Explaining this positioning, which he insists is "different from the rest", Hari Krishnan, vice-president, JWT, says, "We're taking the mango association beyond kids plucking it from trees, having made Slice a brand for pleasure seekers - something unexplored by other brands."

Aamsutra is also being extended gradually (as a positioning premise) for Slice's sister brand, Slice Mangola.

Frooti: Mango all the way

Frooti: better than mangoes?
Having been launched in 1985, Frooti has indeed been around for long, but was the last one to claim the mango territory in such a manner. Although the brand has been centred round mangoes, only this year's ad ('Mangoes are Known by Only One Name in India - Frooti') positions it as the original/ authentic mango drink. The ad even says that if one is rebuked for eating mangoes, one should 'drink' it instead.

"We put the argument about the original mango to rest with this ad," claims Raj Kurup, founder and chief creative officer, CreativeLand Asia (Frooti's agency). "Our ad clearly says that drinking a Frooti is the best way of consuming mangoes and has been so since a long, long time."

Who dares wins
Across beverages, there is one element in every drink category which is the predominant one. For bottled soft drinks (aerated), this element is cola; for soft drink concentrates, it is orange (the Rasna kind); for home-made beverages, it is lime/ lemon; for juices, it is orange (such as Tropicana, Real Juice); and in fruit drinks, it is mango. So, in a sense, it would be a natural step for any mango drink brand to tell the mango story. 'Ownership of mango' or the 'source credibility story' would be apt ways to describe this phenomenon, according to Jagdeep Kapoor, chairman and managing director, Samsika Marketing Consultants.

What's happening is almost like a simile-metaphor argument: to say a drink is like eating a mango, and to claim the drink to actually be a mango, are two ways of looking at it. And if everyone is latching on to the same metaphor, whose claim is correct?

Says Kapoor, "When a consumer is confused, the brand is refused. Yes, there is clutter in this space, but how strongly each brand sticks to its own identities will decide the winner."

In other words, the brand with the most single minded focus will win, rather than the one that shouts the loudest. Having said that, the brand analyst feels that while Frooti (the longest standing mango drink) and Maaza (the 'seedless' mango) have single minded focus, Slice's sibling brand, Slice Mangola, is the one that is likely to face a slight setback (even as its rebranding campaign - from Mangola to Slice Mangola - is currently running).

"Mangola even had a 'mango' in its brand name, but to add a Slice before that is a dilution of the brand," he says. While those are Kapoor's thoughts, it will be worth observing whether Aamsutra does the trick for both the Slice brands.

According to a beverage industry expert, the orange drinks category (flavoured as well as fruit drinks) will soon explode in a similar manner. It is already beginning to happen, with Minute Maid, Fanta, Real Juice and Tropicana Twister slowly exploring the 'orange' areas. A fight for the original orange may be under way. Watch this space.