Anushree Bhattacharyya

Coke revisits cricket after 16 years

In its new campaign, Coca-Cola India celebrates the happiness cricket brings into the life of people. The campaign is largely based on the global theme of 'Open Happiness'.

Coke is back with cricket after 16 long years. The brand was last associated with it during 1996 Cricket World Cup. In its new campaign, Coca-Cola celebrates the spirit and the happiness cricket brings into the life of people and binds them under various circumstances.

Coke revisits cricket after 16 years
The campaign is largely based on Coke's global theme of 'Open Happiness'.

Conceptualised by Lowe Lintas & Partners, the television commercial, titled 'Cricket ki khushi', shows how a group of children who are die-hard fans of the game, come together in a desert to play the game under the scorching sun (supported by a voiceover). The TVC captures various moments of their happiness while playing the game. At the end, it shows the new brand ambassador, cricketer Sachin Tendulkar, who says, "Khelte raho, khush raho (keep playing, stay happy)".

Coke revisits cricket after 16 years
Coke revisits cricket after 16 years
Speaking about the idea, Anupama Ahluwalia, vice-president, marketing, Coca-Cola India and Southwest Asia, says, "Cricket makes India happy and Coca-Cola is celebrating this happiness. The campaign taps into the simple pleasures that this game offers, to tell this story of happiness. With this new campaign, Coca-Cola celebrates the passion and joy experienced by all of us through the game of cricket."

R Balki, chairman and chief creative officer, Lowe Lintas & Partners, explains, "Coca-Cola's objective was to show happiness and talk about anything that brings happiness to the nation. And cricket is the best example as India is known to be a cricket-crazy nation. Therefore, the new TVC salutes the game of cricket and celebrates its spirit."

Apart from television, the beverage company will also launch radio, digital and out of home campaigns in key markets.

Creating nostalgia

Industry professionals opine that while the TVC does successfully evoke a feeling of happiness, it still remains an average commercial with a nice voiceover. Experts feel that the commercial is a good mix of a few campaigns seen in the past, which obliterates the freshness factor.

Coke revisits cricket after 16 years
Coke revisits cricket after 16 years
Soumitra Karnik, national creative director, Dentsu India, says, "Oh, so while Pepsi is in two minds on whether to dump cricket, which it supported for years, and to go after football, Coca-Cola sniffs an opportunity and tries to romance the joy of cricket. A reasonable strategy; however, if they had created something dramatically different, it would have been far more refreshing to watch."

According to Karnik, to show snippets of a game just the way it's played by millions of Indians since their childhood, across the nooks and corners of several streets, is a let-down. "Having said this, the voiceover is quite nicely written. The music is nice, too. Together, they do justice to the idea of 'Open Happiness'. Beyond this, nothing," he adds.

Amit Kekre, planning head, Mudra West, remarks, "It's not the first time for Coke and gully cricket. This ad is very reminiscent of the kitschy 'Dum Mast Kalandar' Coke ad done with Tarsem Singh in the '90s. Having said that, it's well produced, no matter the sepia tone taking one back to another cricketing saga that made the common man the hero - Lagaan. Strategically, it seems right and works - using the analogy of happiness of the game and the core of Coke - 'Happiness'. Lastly, a refreshing (if not entirely new) take in the midst of sport-related ads full of stadia and sport stars - the piece nicely bringing the sport on the street and with the people - which is where it truly belongs."

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