Can Coca-Cola replace the fancy cuppa?

By Ashee Sharma , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | October 27, 2015
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Coca-Cola's new campaign featuring Alia Bhatt is directed at helping the brand target in-home consumption for the category using festivals as consumption occasions.

The festive season is back and so are the fun moments with loved ones. To ensure that the spontaneous and off-the-cuff social gatherings are enjoyed to the fullest, Coca-Cola has once again assumed the role of the perfect icebreaker making way for fun moments and bringing everyone closer at planned and unplanned gatherings.

Conceptualised by McCann, the ad sees Alia Bhatt in a bit of a spot when her husband's aunt and her family drop in unannounced. As she tries to be the ideal Indian daughter-in-law by doing everything she can to live up to what she thinks are their expectations, a coincidence introduces Coca-Cola into the mix completely changing the situation.

Coca-Cola's new TVC 'Coca-Cola pilao mehmano ko kareeb lao'

The campaign is directed at helping Coca-Cola target in-home consumption for the category using festivals as consumption occasions. It tries to position the drink as the perfect one for social gatherings. Building on the idea of 'Formality Hatao, Coca-Cola pilao', which the brand used in its communication during the last festive season, this ad also tries to depict the increasing acceptance of the carbonated beverage among the elder consumers by weaving the concept into a progressive story-line.

The 'Formality Hatao, Coca-Cola Pilao' TVC

A striking contrast, though, is that while in the previous ad Coca-Cola's challenger attitude was expressed quite covertly, this time the brand conspicuously projects itself as the preferred alternative over not just traditional beverages like tea, coffee or nimbu-pani, but even their modern counterparts - cappuccino, lime-soda and iced-tea. The stance becomes evident in the commercial when the guests turn down other drinks for Coke.

Debabrata Mukherjee

Prasoon Joshi

Talking about the new campaign, Debabrata Mukherjee, VP - marketing and commercial, Coca-Cola India, says, "Festivals in India are all about moments of celebration anchored in the excitement of bonding and togetherness with loved ones. However, meeting friends and family are no longer lighthearted and spontaneous acts as the burden of formality takes away the unbridled joy of relaxed conversations. Keeping this in mind, our new campaign, amplifies the need for such spontaneous acts of togetherness."

The TVC has been created by team McCann led by Prateek Bhardwaj under the guidance of Prasoon Joshi. Pushpendra Misra of Flying Saucer has directed the film. Commenting on the campaign, Joshi, executive chairperson and creative director, president, McCann Asia Pacific adds, "As times are changing we see that social interactions are becoming less hierarchical and more informal. But even then hosting guests comes along with a sense of pressure, especially when the relationships in question are the newly made ones. The campaign accentuates this need to socialise more, sans the burden of formality and brings to life the role that Coca-Cola plays in this."

The multimedia campaign will be extensively leveraged through television, print, social media, radio and POSM (Point of Sale Materials). Coca-Cola India will also soon be rolling out the special Coca-Cola Festival gift packs which facilitate the exchange of an ice cold refreshing Coca-Cola with friends and family.

A welcome challenge?

Kiran Khalap

Kiran Khalap, co-founder and MD, chlorophyll Brand and Communications Consultancy thinks that the brand is trying to build bridges with a younger audience with this ad, the same way Coke Studio did through an event.

For Khalap the comparison with other drinks is not as critical to the story as embedding Coke in the Indian culture is. "To that extent it succeeds, given a bahu with a bandana and teenagers ("Bhabhs!") bonding with an aunt over Coke. I like the execution except that a youngster in office watching the ad with me commented, "Who keeps Coca Cola monogrammed glasses at home?" This kind of overt branding feels fairly amateurish and panicky," he remarks adding that "if the whole 30 sec is not about Coke then that one second monogrammed glass is not going to make it about Coke!"

Comparing the ad to the a previous one in 2014 which featured Deepika Padukone and Farhan Akhtar, he says, "I love watching the 'injection' story again and again, where the brand played a slightly peripheral role. Here the Coke is what bonds the family and I feel that this objective will take time to achieve." To make his point Khalap cites the example of Cadbury chocolate that became a part of India's cultural foodscape after being in the country for close to 67 years, since 1948. "The same will hold true for Coke. Advertising alone cannot infiltrate Indian culture, time can," he states.

Divyapratap Mehta

Divyapratap Mehta, founder - Intertwined, a brand consultancy, calls the film "strategically smart". "The film subtly asks consumers to stock-up Coke before the holiday season. I think it is stronger than a lot of older Coke pre-Diwali films which were celebratory, but did not necessarily build the brand's relevance in people's lives," he notes.

"I think the ad smartly positions Coca Cola as the universally loved drink, while trying to resolve a genuine consumer dilemma of what all to stock-up to serve guests," adds Mehta. However, according to him, it will not be among the 'talked about' films this festive season. He reasons saying that the ad is "not visually or executionally striking, but it's a warm and relatable film for everyone and should do an effective job".

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