Saumya Tewari

No Formalities, This is Coke

Coca-Cola moves ahead of its 'Open Happiness' proposition and urges consumers to adopt the drink as a perfect one for 'social gatherings'.

In many families, the arrival of guests or relatives means that the lady of the house gets down to business. She spends long hours preparing snacks and beverages for them. The act of being a good 'hostess' - or being 'formal' - makes her miss out on interesting conversations. Taking a cue from this, global beverage giant Coca-Cola's new campaign, 'Formality Hatao, Coca-Cola pilao', propagates the proposition of 'celebrating togetherness' with an old couple as protagonists.

Executed by McCann Erickson, the film opens with the couple in question paying a visit to their niece's home. The visibly disturbed husband (who is the maternal uncle of the girl) tells his wife that whenever they visit their niece, she becomes too formal and ends up spending most of her time in the kitchen preparing dishes. His wife assures him that this time will be different.

No Formalities, This is Coke
No Formalities, This is Coke

The girl welcomes the couple asking them to sit while she quickly whips something up. Instead, the old lady makes her sit and takes out a bottle of Coke announcing, 'Aaj se no formality'. The maternal uncle quickly adds 'Tumse milne aaye hain, tumhare kitchen se nai'. The film ends with everyone enjoying a glass of Coke and chatting with each other.

The alternative drink?

Evidently progressive, the campaign clearly is an attempt to increase the consumption of Coke at home. Featuring an old couple carrying a bottle of Coke may also hint at increasing acceptance of the carbonated beverage among the elder consumers. There is one argument that Coke's latest ad positions itself as an 'alternative', if not 'replacement', for popular beverages like tea and coffee.

No Formalities, This is Coke
Debabrata Mukherjee, vice president - marketing & commercial, Coca-Cola India, says that the new campaign highlights the importance of having 'spontaneous conversations' with loved ones. He explains that occasions like family reunions, casual get-togethers with friends and other impromptu gatherings are often marred by the burden of 'formality', which reduces the joy of socialising. "This holds true for almost every Indian household. Through the campaign, Coca-Cola will be seen championing the cause of spontaneous, real social interactions between people," he notes.

The TVC has been created by team McCann led by Prateek Bhardwaj with guidance from Prasoon Joshi, and directed by Nikhil Rao of Jamic Films. In addition to mass media, the integrated communication programme will be extensively leveraged through social media, radio and point of sale merchandise. Coca-Cola India will soon be rolling out the special Coca-Cola Festival gift packs which will include the unique Coca-Cola bell glasses.

Ever since its re-entry in the Indian market in 1993, Coca-Cola has expanded its portfolio with offerings that have grown to include Diet Coke, Thums Up, Fanta, Limca, Sprite, Maaza, Minute Maid range of juices, Georgia and Georgia Gold range of hot and cold tea and coffee options, Kinley and Bonaqua packaged drinking water, Kinley Club Soda and BURN. The company, along with its bottling partners, has a network of over 2.2 million retail outlets. Its major competitor is Pepsi.

Casual and cool

No Formalities, This is Coke
No Formalities, This is Coke
Our experts believe that while the thought behind the commercial is well placed, the execution could have been smoother. Amit Akali, former NCD Grey Worldwide notes that as a race we have moved away from being formal and stuck-up to being casual. "We take a lot of liberties with friends and family that we probably didn't earlier. And it's nice that someone's portraying that in advertising," he says appreciating how informal and casual the old couple is portrayed as.

According to Akali, 'Tumse milne aaye hai, tumhare kitchen se thodi' is a statement 'all of us keep saying to the host or have people telling us when we go overboard in our kitchens.' He feels that the brand could have been weaved into the story more naturally. "The lady carrying a bottle of coke to someone's house is a little forced," he adds.

Meanwhile, Ramanujam Sridhar, CEO, Brand-Comm believes that there is nothing earth-shattering about the ad and it uses the old concept of family occasion or social gathering. "It is just one more execution of the core theme of Coca-Cola on happiness, family, occasions and togetherness," he comments.

In terms of strategy, Sridhar explains, Coke's rival Pepsi always had a 'youth centric' proposition. A brand meant for the youth or the young at heart. Even its brand ambassadors have been youth icons like Sachin Tendulkar, Shahrukh Khan and now current hearthrobs like Ranbir Kapoor or Virat Kohli. "Globally, Coke has been a market leader. Therefore, it has always relied on self promotion and strong distribution networks. So, unlike Pepsi, I believe there is no clear long-term strategy of Coca-Cola," he notes.

According to him, the old couple carrying a bottle of Coke is more like a 'Gift' or the joy of giving Coke. He feels that suggestions about Coke trying to enter the tea/coffee space are 'ambitious statements'. "I do not think Coke can make a dent in the tea/coffee drinking space," he asserts.

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