Shreyas Kulkarni

Coca-Cola brews a big one for the cricket World Cup and the festive season

India and Southwest Asia marketing chief Arnab Roy spills the plans of Thums Up, Limca Sportz, and Coke at a media roundtable.

Seeing The Coca-Cola Company this active outside its peak consumption time of the summer is uncommon.

Then again, it is not every day that the drinks giant’s beverages enjoy a meal of the ICC Men's Cricket World with a side of the throbbing October heat followed by the dessert called Diwali.

Such is the frenzy at The Coca-Cola Company that its India and South West Asia chief marketing officer Arnab Roy, in a media roundtable, said the company’s marketing spends in Q4FY24 is the highest of any Q4s since the company set up shop in India.

The cricket World Cup is taking place in India after 12 years and Thums Up, the official beverage of the International Cricket Council (ICC), is spearheading the promotions for the event along with a campaign from Sprite.

Drinks Break (2023 - 1996, L-R)
Drinks Break (2023 - 1996, L-R)

Limca Sportz, an isotonic drink launched in 2022, is enjoying an awareness push at the event with its bottle serving players during the drinks break; it is reminiscent of the Coca-Cola bottle in the 1996 cricket World Cup.

Two ads starring actor Shah Rukh Khan for Thums Up have hit the screen. In one, he is seen vanquishing the doubts of Indian cricket fans over whether the hosts can win the World Cup. The second is an AI-led ad where the actor’s voice is being used to answer cricket-related questions.

Carbonated beverage Coca-Cola, on the other hand, is focusing only on the festivals with its latest spot, made by Ogilvy, focusing on Durga Puja.

Before the start of the World Cup, Thums Up had launched a branded content series on Disney+ Hotstar called ‘Thums Up Fan Pulse’. It is the second piece of branded content from the beverage following one around food with celebrity chef Ranveer Brar called ‘Thums Up Toofani Biryani Hunt’.

Also Read: A quick bite of Thums Up's biryani IP on Disney+ Hotstar

“Our goal is to target at least 30% of investments around branded content,” said Roy in response to an afaqs! question on the level of priority the company allocates to this form of marketing. Along with these two IPs, there is Coke Studio Bharat which launched in February 2023.

Arnab Roy
Arnab Roy

In response to a media query, Roy said 60% of the company’s marketing spending in this period will go to traditional media (TV, OOH, Radio).

An AI Push

Roy expects a lot of brands to invest more money to do smart experiments leveraging AI.

“Artificial Intelligence will play a significant role in shaping communication and engagement for all brands especially when it is combined with large platforms. It will start with experiments and scalability will be applied very soon,” he remarked during the roundtable.

An AI-driven campaign is expected from Coca-Cola for Diwali.

Celebrity effectiveness

Shah Rukh Khan endorses Thums Up. Track and field athlete Neeraj Chopra is the face of Limca Sportz while many celebrities are the face of Coca-Cola.

When asked about the effectiveness of celebrities in advertising, Roy said it all comes down to the brand fit and how the brand will use the celebrity.

“I've, in the last 22 years of advertising, seen big celeb-led advertisements with no cut-through or no branded recall…, celebrities can give a bump if your objectives are in line with what you are trying to do,” he responded afaqs!.

Roy also revealed they had across the company’s brands worked with over 600 influencers. “It is 3X from what we were doing a year back and it will continue to explode next year.”

The vice president of marketing believes the future is going to be a nice blend of micro and macro influencers, some cricketers, and Bollywood and South Indian cinema will continue to be relevant, but it depends on how you will use them.

And staying with the future where sustainability will play a massive influencer in a company’s fortune, Coca-Cola says all country flags seen when the national anthem is played before a match are made out of recycled PET bottles from the company’s beverage brands.

A campaign called ‘Maidaan Saaf’ has the company aiming to collect nearly 200 metric tons of waste during the ICC World Cup, and it will be used to create benches at railway stations and public parks. 

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