With summer just around the corner, aerated beverage giant Coca-Cola has just unveiled its #SayItWithCoke campaign here in India. The ad film features Bollywood stars Ranbir Kapoor and Paresh Rawal in a fun scene beside a new label design for the Coke bottle.
McCann Worldgroup India has crafted the film and it takes forward the original idea of using Coca-Cola packaging as a medium.
Coke's #ShareACoke campaign was launched around the same time last year. At that time, Coke swapped the original brand labels with the logo for relationships like Grandma, Daddy, Mom etc. in 12 Indian languages. The terms were accompanied by descriptors such as - Grandad (Old School. Yet Cool), Grandma (Scolds me. Spoils me), Daddy (My teacher. My friend) and others.
This year, the new bottles feature messages which otherwise might be difficult to convey upfront to intended receivers. In the ad, a sarcastic Ranbir presents a bottle printed with "Jaadu Teri Nazar" (in Hindi) to his nosy landlord Paresh Rawal. "Jaadu Teri Nazar" (that literally translates to magical eyes) is a romantic Bollywood number from the early 90s and it plays in the background during the tenant-owner interaction. And no, it's not because of Rawal's magical eyes, but because of him spying on his tenants' activities.
The ad also hints at the idea that a single piece of media like "Jaadu Teri Nazar" could make a good fit for various other situations like a boyfriend giving a bottle of Coke to his girlfriend or vice versa.
The labels also feature "You Are My Soniya", "Chak De India", "All Izz Well" and more which also seem inspired mainly by Bollywood.
However, Coke isn't the only brand that's playing around with its wrappers; other brands have done it in the past -
Nestle's premium chocolate brand Alpino's wrappers include a romantic message to be shared between couples. "You're sweeter than any chocolate" is one example.
Nuts, caramel and chocolate-based bar, Snickers, from Mars Wrigley Confectionery, replaced the brand name/logo on the topside (face) of the packaging with words like Junglee, Princess, Nautanki and others for their "Who are you when you are hungry?" campaign.
Kit Kat tweaked its packaging for V-day 2019.
So, does Coke win?
KV Sridhar or Pops (as he is fondly called), founder and chief creative officer of Hyper Collective (a cross-disciplinary innovations company) says that the advertiser, being a powerful brand like Coca-Cola which encourages conversations, could have done much more.
"It would have been a perfect ad ten years back. In today's time, brands are expected to initiate conversations around less-talked-about topics of society and which need expression. People actually have conversations over a bottle of Coca-Cola. Also, in this ad's scenario, there could be scenarios like live-in relationships or maybe LGBT relationships. On the other hand, the fun-play angle is commercial in flavour. We see Unilever, on the other end, going to extremes," he says.
"All brands, big and small, are daring to talk about social issues. There are repercussions and differences, but it's not necessary that everyone should like everybody," Sridhar adds.
"The continuation of using the label as a medium is a good thing, but it is not new. It has been happening for many years. When Thums Up introduced cans for the first time in the mid-90s, we had decided that each can would be a walking billboard and got them printed accordingly. Coke's usage of the packaging is good because it makes people talk about it," he explains.
To Narayan Devanathan, group executive and strategy officer, Dentsu Aegis Network, South Asia, the ad is an opportunity lost. Why? "Brands seeking cultural relevance is a given. Previously, brands, like other parts of the cultural ecosystem - sports, music, movies, religion- could create or lead culture too. But lately, brands seem to be content merely piggybacking on other cultural markers. It's a pity that a cultural icon like Coke feels the need to piggyback on popular music to win some relevance. I understand that this is an adaptation of a global brand idea, but even so... I wonder if they could've broken away from the global execution crutch and created something more original, even culture-leading," he explains.
Shobhit Mathur, national creative director, Hakuhodo India considers the ad a "first fresh-breath of this summer!"
Mathur states, "Living up to what Coca-Cola has always been about, this ad, does the same. It celebrates everyday moments and relationships in a very endearing and relatable way."
"These days, the overall repulsion towards cola consumption is on a high and so, it's better to keep it light-hearted and fun. And who better than the great Paresh Rawal and Ranbir to do it? I think they've done a fantastic job - The setting is nice; the story is nice; the dialogues are nice. But will it break the clutter of the mad cricket season ahead of us? Perhaps not," Mathur adds.
"What I do like about the on-going #ShareACoke campaign and the use of packaging as a medium is that it is vernacular. It will surely help them connect to a much larger audience. We all know that the days of looking down on a vernacular language are gone. But why use song titles? Overall, a thumbs up to this campaign. Oops, did I just say that?" Mathur concludes with a quip.
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