Sprite: Talking straight with a 'Killer' idea

By Neha Kalra , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | February 20, 2009
Sprite, Coca-Cola's clear lime drink, has released two commercials epitomising Sprite and non-Sprite characters. afaqs! finds out how it works for the brand

Sprite may talk straight but its creative team has no option but to think laterally whenever faced with the client brief. Going by the branding proposition, no drink resonates and talks 'seedhi baat' in a manner like Coca-Cola's clear lime drink, Sprite. The brand, well known for its no-nonsense attitude, has taken to its first advertising attempt for 2009.

With the Seedhi Baat, No Bakwaas tagline, the first of the two television commercials opens on two friends playing Carrom. The Sprite drinker points out that he is going to lay his hands on the red coin (queen) in the game. His friend, who catches sight of a young girl walking into the compound with her dog, is very much sure of the 'queen' stepping in for him.

& #BANNER1 & #He thinks of a twisted way of reaching out to the lady - through her dog, named Killer. While she stops at a nearby store, he runs to pet Killer and impress her indirectly. To his surprise, the Sprite drinker candidly invites her for a game of Carrom. She is obviously worried about Killer. The 'dog lover' is forced to help in this department. The film closes on a product shot and the tagline.

The second commercial, in a South Indian wedding set-up, has a Sprite and a non-Sprite person interested in the same girl. The latter finds an indirect of winning the girl's heart - through her parents. He begins to serve 'sambhar' to the family members one by one. In the meantime, the Sprite drinker makes it directly to the girl and takes the seat right next to her. To make things worse, while the non-Sprite friend sweetly offers 'sambhar' to the girl, she shatters his heart by addressing him as her younger brother.

O&M is the creative agency for the films and they have been directed by Vinil Matthew of Footcandles Films.

Sprite Baat

Srinivas Murthy, general manager, flavour brands,Coca-Cola India, tells afaqs! that since the launch of the new tagline, Seedhi Baat No Bakwaas, in 2008, the brand idea and insight have been taken a little deeper. "If you notice, a template has been used, wherein there is a person who epitomises Sprite values, and the other doesn't," he brings out.

Consumer research reveals that bonding tends to be the highest between teens. The two characters in the commercials are not enemies, they are simply having fun at each other's expense, says Murthy.

Targeted at the teens and young adults, the brand understands that this particular age group appreciates a straightforward way of talking. "This generation is more influenced by cutting to the chase and achieving their goals quicker," Murthy says.

Ajay Gahlaut, group creative director, O&M, reveals that the idea will be put across effortlessly through all media. Apart from television, OOH, print media and digital will also be used. Within three weeks, the OOH campaign featuring the two characters will be up - apart from static, visual media will also be put up at youth hangouts.

Rajesh Kumar, president, planning at O&M, Delhi tells that Sprite has always championed a distinct and 'cool' point of view. "Brand Sprite leans into mainstream beliefs and provokes us to think again about them. This time round the brand focuses on the roundabout manner which finds favour a lot because it is thought to be 'right' and surreptitiously allows us to slide closer to our objective. Sprite questions this cultural code. In that sense, it is independent and takes the opposite side to the code," he says. Working hands-on on the brand, he understands that 'Seedhi baat' always finds deep resonance with the youth.

For Sprite, it all started with the launch campaign for the brand starring Lisa Ray in 1999. The tagline used at that time was 'Sprite Bujhaye Pyaas, Baaki Sab Bakwaas'. In 2004, the concept of 'Clear Hai' took birth.

Seedhi Baat with the industry

Ad peers are confident about the one year old positioning of Seedhi Baat, No Bakwaas for the brand. Says Manish Masih, senior creative director, Hakuhodo Percept, "The anti-hyperbole positioning comes straight to the point (literally) while effectively creating its unique space among aerated drinks. Definitely a better connect than the earlier 'Clear Hai' thought."

Shiveshwar Singh, creative director, DraftFCB Ulka compares Sprite's positioning to the traditional cola advertising "which promise you the world," the way Pepsi's Dil Maange More did, and now Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai by Dew. "Either that, or at least getting into the good books of the girl next door. Sprite's branding is sharp, focused and, pardon the pun, clear," he says. Having said that, Singh says that one of the previous Sprite commercials, which had a two-timing guy talking straight and getting away with it, was far stronger.

Pinaki Bhattacharya, senior vice-president, strategic planning, Saatchi & Saatchi, is quite pleased by the brand being fairly consistent on its positioning.

He is of the opinion that the idea of 'ways to get the girl' is dated and the positioning area of Sprite is so rich that ideas should go beyond the girl-boy stories. Nevertheless, he feels that its execution makes it endearing.

With 'Clear Hai' surviving as the brand's tagline for four years before Seedhi Baat made a 'seedha' (straight) entry, one needs to watch out for the survival of this tagline.

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