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Thums Up: From 'Taste the Thunder' to 'Live the Thunder'

By Ashwini Gangal , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising | March 29, 2012
In its new campaign, Thums Up, a brand that stands for 'Bold Masculine Leadership', encourages its loyalists to seize the day by saying 'Aaj Kuchh Toofani Kartey Hain'. Now the Thums Up Man is no longer 'Chasing the Thunder'; rather, he is 'Living the Thunder'.

One of India's most resilient soft drink brands, Thums Up has rolled out its new campaign for the summer season, in which the brand challenges its loyalists to push the envelope and do something daring or 'toofani'. The campaign introduces the brand's new tagline, 'Aaj Kuchh Toofani Kartey Hain'.

Thums Up TVC

Through this campaign, Thums Up, which still carries its iconic 'Taste the Thunder' catch-phrase, urges its consumers to 'Live the Thunder' and unlock what it calls 'the new code of masculinity'. Specifically, this year's proposition is 'Live like Thunder'.

Conceptualised by Leo Burnett and produced by Nomad Films, the television commercial features South Indian actor Mahesh Babu, who has been endorsing the brand in Andhra Pradesh for a while. Accompanying him are Dhaval Thakur (winner of Khatron ke Khiladi 2011), Sahil Shroff (actor) and Angela Jonsson (of Kingfisher Calendar fame).

A counter-intuitive break from Bollywood actor Akshay Kumar - a face that loyalists have grown to associate with the brand and its action-packed image - the current film sees these four youngsters perform daredevil stunts that reflect the brand's persona.

Brand Thums Up has always had a strong resonance with action, energy and a go-getter spirit. Also, it has always been fiercely male. In its previous brand films, it's always the man who performs extreme stunts and participates in a rough-and-tumble chase. The female character is more of a bystander or someone he comes huffing back to with the Thums Up bottle in his hand. This is probably the first time that a girl is in the thick of action, along with the men. Does this mean that the brand is widening its traditional masculine image to include women in the brand space as well?

Sainath Saraban

Sainath Saraban, executive creative director, Leo Burnett, answers, "Women comprise over 30 per cent of Thums Up's loyal consumer base. Despite being a masculine brand, Thums Up appeals to the rugged and active side of women through its communication. We're comfortable using women in the communication, but how we portray them is what needs to be given careful thought in order to stay true to the masculine brand character of Thums Up."

The thought 'Aaj Kuchh Toofani Kartey Hain' is based on the insight that today's youngsters crave for the admiration of their peers and want to lead the pack. "Building on this insight, the campaign marks another milestone in the evolution of the Thums Up Man - from the 'Angry Young Man' to the 'Cool Risk Taker' to the follower of 'Playful Mastery' and finally, to the advocate of Bold Masculine Leadership," conveys the brand team in a press note.

Saraban adds that when he wrote the copy for this ad, he "simply transported the Thunder within the bottle, to the Thunder within oneself."

Regarding the insight, the Coca-Cola spokesperson tells afaqs!, "This campaign takes the 'I will do anything for my thunder' attitude to the next level. It's all about inspiring leadership and leading the pack by doing something 'toofani'."

Besides TV, this campaign will include social media, outdoor, radio and on-ground initiatives.

Does the new proposition take the industry by storm (no pun intended)? afaqs! finds out.

For starters, starring Mahesh Babu in a mainstream television commercial may well be a lost cause because non-South Indian/non-Telugu speaking consumers of Thums Up residing in metros such as Mumbai and Delhi did not recognise him for the star that he is. Using him in markets where his celeb-quotient is low, if not nil, is being frowned upon. But that's not all, the industry veterans tell us.

Satbir Singh

Gautam Talwar

Satbir Singh, managing partner and chief creative officer, Euro RSCG India says that the ad is a departure from what Thums Up advertising has traditionally been -- while earlier, the character went to extreme lengths to get hold of a bottle, here, he starts with one. "That used to be the greatest differentiator for Thums Up," Singh observes, adding, "I wish it was retained. The change is distracting."

He reminds us that taking a swig of the drink being advertised and then jumping from various heights is something we've already seen in commercials for Pepsi's Mountain Dew that carried the tagline 'Darr Ke Aage Jeet Hai'.

Singh predicts that while the younger generation may not be too judgmental of the ad, the older consumers with years of nostalgic baggage will.

According to Gautam Talwar, chief strategy officer, Rediffusion-Y&R, the new tagline 'Aaj Kuchh Toofani Karte Hain' serves to successfully establish a connect with the target segment - the youth. "We call this the generation of 'experience junkies' who go to various lengths to achieve larger than life experiences," he opines.

However, he doesn't think this is the best interpretation of 'bold leadership'. "There are many more relatable or even aspirational interpretations of bold leadership that could have been used. Also, I am not sure if this is what the youth of the country are looking at as the next level of an adrenaline rush," he adds.

On the evolution of the Thums Up Man, Talwar says, "It's an obvious logical move on the part of the brand but the real question is - 'Is it differentiated?'." More than a new interpretation, Talwar sees it as a move to merely refresh the old communication.

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