Sunit Roy

Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?

The Indian adaptation of Coca-Cola's international ad film - of which there are several versions across markets - features Bollywood actor Deepika Padukone.

Coca-Cola has recently launched a new ad campaign, '#LiftTheFeeling', featuring actress Deepika Padukone. The ad titled 'Elevator' has been made under the 'taste the feeling' campaign keeping the Indian audience in mind.

Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
The ad film is Coca-Cola's Indian rendition of the international ad campaign, and is in tune with Coca-Cola's "One Brand" strategy to unify all Coca-Cola Trademark brands under one creative approach. The narrative draws upon the significance of Coke in acting as a catalyst of social bonding and breaking the ice between a celebrity and a fan stranded in a stuck elevator. Keeping in mind the localised tastes and sensitivities of the audience in the country, this version is different from the global campaign, primarily in terms of the overall flavour which is rooted in the Indian context.
Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
The #LiftTheFeeling campaign was launched first on digital media with exciting teasers featuring Deepika Padukone. Before the digital launch of the ad, the teasers of the campaign sent the consumers in a tizzy, guessing 'what's next?' Creating curiosity amongst viewers, the launch on digital media had consumers liking, sharing and commenting relentlessly, resulting in greater engagement between them and the brand.

Part of an integrated marketing campaign, the full commercial was launched by Deepika Padukone on her official Facebook page on April 19 (garnering over 20 million views in less than two days), before going on the television on April 21.

Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
Of late, Coke has been trying to explore desi insights - such as
. Although, Coca-Cola rolled out an India-specific campaign under the '#TastetheFeeling' umbrella featuring Bollywood actor Sidharth Malhotra in March 2016, the brand came up with a concept -
that captures the camaraderie between siblings for the first time. The ad campaign, '#BrotherlyLove', released on YouTube in December 2016, was Coca-Cola's Indian rendition of the international ad campaign which was launched on YouTube in January 2016.
Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
campaign was featured by more than 200 countries across TV, outdoor, print, retail signage and more. A number of versions of some of these ads were shot by Coca Cola with the actors differing for cultural relevance. The same approach was taken with "Elevator."
Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
So far, three versions of the 'Elevator' campaign have been shot on the same set using different casting in different geographical locations. The storyline, art direction and overall creative quality remain the same with small adjustments.

The Indian version of the 'Elevator' campaign has been conceptualised by McCann India. The ad has been directed by Hemant Bhandari and produced by Chrome Pictures. And while the desi version of the campaign showed a hotel service attendant sharing a light moment with Deepika as he promptly offers a chilled Coke to the hassled actor after they get trapped in a dysfunctional elevator, the global version of the ad is a modern day tale of a famous DJ and a hotel waitress.

"The objective was to come up with a concept which is both entertaining and universal in appeal despite maintaining a very local flavour. The 'Elevator' campaign is conceptualised in a way that it is truly enjoyable for everyone, especially due to the celebrity quotient of Deepika Padukone, upbeat music, great storytelling and the positive message that no matter what you do, you can always bond over Coca-Cola," says the official spokesperson of Coca-Cola India.

Well adapted?

Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
And while the gender reversal is interesting, and campaigns such as 'Elevator' have universal appeal, we asked the experts, 'What are the thumb rules an agency ought to keep in mind while adapting international films for the local market?'
Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?

According to Azazul Haque, executive creative director, Ogilvy, Bangalore, adapting international films is never the choice of any agency. It's always a mandate that comes from international headquarters. "So, I believe this must be a mandate from the global, which the local agency must have followed. Having said that, local insights always work a lot better in categories of mass appeal such as soft drinks and beverages. 'Thanda Matlab Coca Cola' is a great example of that," says Haque.

Samit Sinha, managing partner, Alchemist Brand Consulting, says one can't fault the local adaptation of the international campaign. In fact, it's almost a literal adaptation - in letter, not just in spirit, except for the gender reversal. "This is an interesting twist, which would seem to suggest that unlike in the Western world, Coke believes that its core target consumers in India are more male than female. That's probably why they've used a celebrity who is a male fantasy," says Sinha.

Harish Bijoor, brand expert and founder, Harish Bijoor Consults Inc. feels that the adaptation is perfect and fitted to context. He, however, maintains, "It's not as purposeful as the idea of using (Deepika) Padukone. The biggest thing to keep in mind is to ensure that its not a dumb translation. What's important is to use the persona of the star well, and Coke does a good job."

He adds, "Emotions have no geographies. And Coke uses global emotion to local advantage which resonates well."

Impressive work?

While it's true that India has seen some great local campaigns for Coke, times have changed and thanks to the internet, we live in a far more porous world and it is becoming increasingly impossible to contain a campaign to a specific geography. That's why in today's scenario, it makes more and more sense to run global campaigns with local tweaks.

Does Coke's desi rendition of 'The Elevator' ad cut it?
"It's a fantabulous adaptation of the international film. Honestly, for once the adaptation looks better than the original. The casting of the steward is the clincher. Not picking a classical advertising cute boy, instead going for an interesting real face, makes this film a lot more endearing than the international TVC. Also, Deepika looks a lot more fun and approachable as a celebrity," says Haque.

Anu Joseph, chief creative officer, CreativeLand Asia, has a different stand. He says, "Personally, I'm not a fan of international adaptations. Every place has its nuances and insights and historically, brands have done well creating culturally relevant communication. Coca-Cola India has created some brilliant pieces before, and I think, should continue doing that. That being said, the film has been remade quite well."


Prasoon Joshi: Chairman Asia Pacific, CEO & Chief Creative Officer India

Prateek Bhardwaj: National Creative Director

Kapil Batra: Creative Head, McCann Delhi

Jeet Kalra: Creative Head, Films, McCann

Sameer Kumar: Creative Team Leader

Production House: Chrome Pictures

Hemant Bhandari: Director

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