Coca-Cola spreads 'mass' cheer

By Rashmi Menon , afaqs!, Mumbai | In Advertising
Last updated : March 13, 2014
To connect with the small town population, the brand gives a fresh twist to its 'Open happiness' theme in an ad that features Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone.

Happy times are back again and they have expanded to smaller towns. To spread the brand philosophy and to increase consumption, Coca-Cola has released a fresh campaign, its first this year.

Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar, the new faces of Coca-Cola

Debabrata Mukherjee

Prasoon Joshi

'Chhoti ho ya badi, har khushi mein Coca-Cola' takes the brand's broad theme 'Open happiness' beyond urban topography to edge its way into small towns. Having actors Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone in the TVC adds zest to the feel good plot.

Conceptualised and created by McCann Erickson, the TVC was shot by Bollywood director Anurag Kashyap. The TVC opens with Padukone and a friend running after a bus as they are late for college. When they miss it, Padukone worriedly tells her friend that if she doesn't pass, her father will get her married off and she will have to shell peas for the rest of her life. Enter hero Farhan Akhtar, the rickshaw puller who secretly harbours feelings for the lady. He takes a swig of Coke and pedals his way to overtake the bus. The TVC ends by urging people to celebrate the little joys of life with a bottle of Coca-Cola.

It's interesting to see Padukone and Akhtar, who usually play urban Indian roles, appear as small-towners. Apart from this film, more are in the pipeline for the campaign.

The idea behind the campaign is to reach out to the masses by making the actors play the role of simple, everyday people, explains Debabrata Mukherjee, vice-president, marketing and commercial, Coca-Cola India. "With our new campaign, we have translated the brand's happy energy into a series of commercials, which capture the essence of finding moments of joy in our day-to-day lives. The language is very colloquial; the situations are every day, so that every consumer in India can relate to it and feel happy about the celebratory situations. The message is very simple - celebrate your moments of happiness, small or big, with a bottle of Coca-Cola," he explains.

The strategy to move deeper into India and become the choice soft drink is certainly in line with the brand's long-term plan for the country. In mid-2012, Coca-Cola had announced that it had earmarked $3 billion dollars for sustainable growth in India, to be increased to $5 billion by 2020.

According to Prasoon Joshi, CEO and chief creative officer, McCann World Group India, "The concept of happiness is universal, and the joy that one look or smile from that special someone invokes is universal and not constrained by demographics. It's this thought that served as the inspiration for this campaign. Farhan Akhtar and Deepika Padukone essay characters that you and I could bump into on the streets of Chandigarh, Allahabad or any other city."

Besides TV, the campaign will be promoted online, out-of-home, behind the label promotion, point of sale and through on-ground activities. The TVC is produced by Golden Gaddi Films and the music is by Mikey McCleary and Vishal Khurana.

Well spread?

Anand Varadarajan

Ashish Khazanchi

Anand Varadarajan, CEO, MarketGate Dimensions Research, is all praise for the campaign. He feels that it has indeed captured the small town slice of life rather well, with Padukone and Akhtar playing their roles convincingly. "In small towns, Coca-Cola is an aspirational brand. It connotes trendy, modern youth."

On the brand's strategy to focus a campaign for smaller towns, Varadarajan says that he doubts if the brand's last campaign, 'Haan mein crazy hoon', resonated with people in small towns. "Your campaign needs to communicate and build value for your brand. Just like you have Bollywood movies aimed at urban India and movies targeted at small town India, the brand has to take into account the cultural ethos and nuances," he says. As for the new faces, Varadarajan believes that since there is nothing new to say about the product, the newness comes from cthe creative and the endorsers. The campaign will certainly draw eyeballs, he concludes.

Ashish Khazanchi, managing partner, enormous, believes the campaign in a way returns to the roots of Coca-Cola's initial 'Thanda matlab' campaign. "India lives in its small towns and this film does have an inclusive appeal. We love our stars saving the day and we love them doing it with aplomb after appropriate dialogue-baazi. From the execution point of view, I wish the commercial was just a little bit longer for the song to sink in a little bit better. In tonality, it's much more a 'thanda matlab' ad than an an 'Open happiness' one. It would be interesting to see in which direction it evolves going forward," he observes.

First Published : March 13, 2014
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