US-based carbonated soft drink company Coca-Cola has pushed its global marketing campaign - 'Share a Coke' - to the Indian shores. The multinational company has marked the beginning of this initiative by releasing a 40-second video featuring Bollywood actor Tahir Raj Bhasin.
In its desi-avatar the 'Share a Coke' campaign partially de-brands the Coca-Cola bottle by replacing the brand name with words like 'Bhai', 'Didi', 'Ma', and 'Papa', among others, on one side of the label. The move is intended to establish a personal connect with consumers.
The campaign, though new to the Indian market, dates back to 2011 when it was originally launched in Australia In its original format. Coca-Cola did not go for relationship titles; instead, it compiled a list of the most popular people's names in the country. The idea was to reach out to a then-new target audience - teens and young adults. Interestingly, according to a Coca-Cola report, 50 per cent of Australian teens and young adults had not tasted Coca-Cola until the launch of this campaign.
The campaign worked in favour of the brand to the extent that it was credited for increasing Coca-Cola's sales figure for the first time in a record 10-year period, back in 2011. And just like how Coca-Cola famously rips off its own international ads with a region-specific cast, the 'Share a Coke' campaign was also replicated in over 70 countries including the United States, United Kingdom and South Africa, among others. In its varying renditions, the Coca-Cola bottle has seen the names of people, countries, sports teams and now the title of family members; after all, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that for us Indians, family comes first!
The campaign was originally conceptualised by Ogilvy & Mather and it also yielded substantial gains for the agency as well, particularly when it came to creative awards. However, for the India chapter, the ad film has been crafted by McCann Worldgroup India.
The 'Advertising' Litmus Test
Shifting focus to the advertising bit and dissecting the newly released short ad, we put the video under the 'expert scanner'. "I personally enjoyed the ad; loved the local adaptation," was the first reaction of GroupM's newly acquired agency, The Glitch's co-founder and creative chief, Rohit Raj.
Raj goes on to appreciate the manner with which the brand has introduced the campaign to Indian audiences. He adds, "From an adman perspective, I like that it is also layered in Coca-Cola's philosophy of sharing. Beyond just showing the new offering, they also show a good use case. If I saw a pack with a relationship I associate with somebody then there are chances that I will pick it up for them, thus encouraging users to buy more. This is Coca-Cola's form of a sharing economy."
However, Ashok Lalla, digital business advisor, is not impressed. "...it is certainly not an ad that I would want to see a hundred times or one that I think will become one of Coca-Cola's most memorable ads," is how Lalla puts it.
Lalla points out that the brand's intention seems to be towards triggering purchase. "This is just another dimension of 'Share a Coke' and a fresh creative expression using various relationships. Coca-Cola probably hopes for a sales uptake through this campaign," he adds.
While the campaign idea is an extension of a global one, the ad treatment of portraying brotherly love also seems familiar. If you recall, only recently, rival brand PepsiCo came up with a new ad film featuring the cast of Bollywood movie, Fukrey. That ad also hinges on themes of brotherhood. So, given the circumstances at hand, we were forced to wonder - what could the reason be behind the similar backdrop of 'bhai-bhai' in two of the country's biggest cola-brands' ad films?
"What 'Dil Chahta Hai' did almost 10 years ago to the world of movies is being played out by brands now," says Naresh Gupta, managing partner and chief strategy officer, Bang in the Middle. He elaborates, "Though PepsiCo did the bromance-kind of ad first, I think Coca-Cola has done it the right way. It's exactly what two young friends will talk about. I only hope this is not a one-off and we will see a series of these ads in the coming months."
Interestingly, Lalla has an observation to make: "As marketers and advertising media people, we often tend to overanalyse stuff and try hard to find 'meaning' in every action."
Lalla even speculates that the resemblance is a matter of chance. "...the male casting of the PepsiCo ad is probably just a coincidence and works for the script," states Lalla.
Raj notes that the positioning of the 'bromance' could be due to the common target audience these brands share. "This is a common theme which both brands decided to exploit considering they are talking to the younger lot who believe in this more."
Gupta agrees and adds, "Today, for brands to connect with youth, they have to find new stories to tell. Sports, music and bonding have always been the themes where the cola brands have played. This is just an extension of those themes, but has a fresh new take."