"There's no infusion of carbonated water; it's a milk-based preparation": Coca-Cola on its flavoured milk brand VIO

By Sunit Roy , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Advertising | August 04, 2016
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We spoke to Abhishek Jugran, director - liquid foods, Coca-Cola, India and South West Asia, about the market for a flavoured milk product from the house of Coca-Cola.

Whenever we think of a cold drink, the first name that pops up is Coca-Cola, thanks to the cult television commercial (TVC) launched by the Cola giant more than a decade ago featuring Aamir Khan, which said, "Thanda matlab Coca-Cola" (cold means Coca-Cola). The ad campaign (with the above tagline) took the whole soft drink industry by storm back then.

After exiting the country in 1977, Coca-Cola re-entered India in 1993. Since then, the brand has left no stone unturned to impress the Indian masses, including roping in Bollywood stars such as Karisma Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Hrithik Roshan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, and Farhan Akhtar to endorse the drink, and launching ads with taglines such as 'Life ho toh aise', 'Pio sar utha ke', 'Jo Chaho ho jaye... Coca-Cola enjoy!', 'Open Happiness', and 'Taste The Feeling'.

VIO's new TVC 'Run With It'

The soft drink giant has now come up with its maiden ad campaign for VIO, the ready-to-drink, flavoured milk, launched earlier this year with the aim to tap the Indian dairy market. The ad is being aired in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, and can be viewed on digital platforms in other states.

Titled 'Run With It', the campaign was launched on July 24, 2016. The concept revolves around leveraging VIO's 'Real Milk. Real Protein' benefit to enable today's fast-paced, multi-tasking youth to 'Run With It' and lead an active lifestyle. The TVC 'VIO Flavoured Milk... #RunWithIt' featuring Prateik Babbar, showcases the protagonist in multiple scenarios, and how VIO flavoured milk gives him the power to navigate through the race of life.

Speaking about the campaign, Abhishek Jugran, director - liquid foods, Coca-Cola India and South West Asia, says, "Through the latest 'Run With It' campaign, we aim to build higher brand recall and awareness about VIO through TV, print, and digital platforms. We expect VIO to set the trend in making out-of-home, on-the-go milk consumption popular for consumers from different age groups across the social strata."

Abhishek Jugran

Conceptualised by Swapan Seth of Equus, the film has been directed by Marlon Rodrigues and produced by the production house Show and Tell. The 360-degree campaign leverages mass media through larger-than-life, out-of-home (OOH) sites in Maharashtra, Goa, Andhra Pradesh, and Telangana. The campaign also leverages key social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, as well as radio and print.

"We have launched the TVC in two of the four states where VIO has been rolled out in trade outlets. We are ensuring a good mix of paid, earned, owned, and shared media in order to create awareness among consumers about VIO, and get them to try it out," informs Jugran.

The brand thoroughly studied the market readiness for this kind of product before launching it. According to Jugran, India's consumption of dairy products is in sync with global consumption trends. Though, when it comes to other beverages, Indian consumption is significantly lower than the global average. However, of the dairy products consumed in India, most of it is pure milk; value-added dairy is currently under one per cent of the total mix.

"There has been a growing demand for value-added dairy products (VADPs) in India and launching a dairy product has been our focus for some time," says Jugran, adding, "The formulation for VIO has been locally developed by the R&D centre at Gurgaon, with inputs from labs in Atlanta. There is no infusion of carbonated water and it is primarily a milk-based preparation."

While the ready-to-drink flavoured milk segment already has some strong existing players like 'Amul Kool', it did not stop Coca-Cola India from infiltrating this segment. "VIO aims to establish new consumption occasions for consumers, over and above the standard in-home consumption. The product is targetted for on-the-go consumers. We cater to the target consumers' preference for products that offer functional benefits. We have put in a new dimension to the traditional beverage," informs Jugran.

Currently available in over 30 cities across the country in 'Kesar Treat' and 'Almond Delight' variants, VIO flavoured milk has been developed jointly by Coca-Cola India and its largest bottling partner Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages. The product contains no added preservatives, and is available in convenient 200 ml aseptic tetra packs of Rs 25 each.

In addition to this, it has also been launched in general trade outlets in Telangana, Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Goa. And, since Coca-Cola enjoys competitive advantage in these states, in terms of distribution, it was quite logical for the brand to pilot VIO there.

The product is also available across all metros and most Tier 1 cities across the country. It can also be procured through Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages' online retail portal 'www.coke2home.com'.

But, will the Indian youth drink it?

Coke and milk are not something we readily put within one bracket. Moreover, the pack has heavy Coca-Cola branding on it. We asked our experts if they think it is an interesting product diversification.

Sridhar Ramanujam

Varun Goswami

Sridhar Ramanujam, founder CEO, Integrated brand-comm, says, "Yes, it is an interesting diversification. Coca-Cola is the No.1 soft drink in the world. As there are limits to the Cola segment, I am sure the market leader has the role of expanding the whole market and different segments with it. At one point of time, the brand had even viewed water as competition, so I don't see any problem in diversifying into an energy drink."

Varun Goswami, executive creative director, GREY Group India (Delhi), feels the two can most definitely co-exist in peace. And, as for the Coca-Cola branding on the pack, he says, "Its only purpose seems to be to lend some 'we are not some new start-up doing this' credence to the offering. There's no coke in the film, except on the pack."

While a number of brands appear to be riding the Olympics wave by creating ad films around sports and athleticism, does VIO's TVC stand out?

"I tried watching the commercial a few times, but was foxed as I was trying to figure out if it had a strong executional idea, a consumer insight, or some memory hooks. But, sadly, I did not find any. It is one of the million ships that pass you by in the night," says Ramanujam.

"Muscles in slow motion, set to an EDM beat, is a neat cinematic trick. As for the message, the energy-drink feel isn't entirely in sync with that 'Almond Delight' milk beverage wholesome goodness thing happening in the end," says Goswami, adding, "I think we already have a few standouts there. I am not sure if this is leveraging on that trend."

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