Home » Ad-alysis, Featured, Fresh from market, Headline, Window to the Past

The Cola Wars

24 April 2012


Disclaimer- Only covering Indian ads. Also, while some of the brands are under either PepsiCo or Coca Cola, I’m still analysing their ads separately.


Come summertime, and we all know who dominates the ad space on television. It is time for The Cola Wars, a long standing feud where one soft drinks giant tries to one-up the other through witty commercials that sometimes border on the insulting. But hey, it makes for good viewing, and who doesn’t love a good campaign war?

I’m gonna be doing this in three parts. The first part will cover Coke, Pepsi, Thums Up, the second part will be on Dew, 7 Up and Sprite. The final part of the series will be on Mirinda, Fanta, Minute Maid, Slice, Maaza and my final verdict on which TVC I liked the best. Sound good? Here we go-

So this year, what have we in store?

The Cola Wars

The Cola Wars

Coca Cola, the world’s largest and the most popular soft drinks brand, came up with the tagline- ‘Umeedon Wali Dhoop/Reasons to Believe‘. They’re not selling a carbonated drink, they’re selling hope. Open happiness they say. And what does the consumer say to that?

The feedback, at least on the internet, seems to be positive, and this new TVC is aligned with thecommunication message they have been sticking tofor the past several years- that Coke gives a reason to smile, be happy, enjoy life, et cetera, et cetera. It’s a sweet ad, but I want something different out of them now. Isn’t this what they’ve been doing forever, and granted, it works for them, but a little something out of the ordinary wouldn’t hurt. And it looks like I’m not the only one thinking this way, going by a recent article in the economic times.[1] I haven’t seen the London Olympic Contest ads yet, but I’m hoping that there’d be something new in store.

Coke has also recently announced their decision to roll out 7.2 lakh special ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ gold cans honouring his 100th international century. These would cost Rs. 20 and be readily available throughout the country.  Nine such cans in different colours have already been launched in 2011, displaying the centuries personally picked by Sachin, the 10th golden one is soon to be launched. Now this seems to be a good idea. We all know the god-level status Sachin enjoys in India (and other parts of the world) and this move is definitely something that’ll work in their favour.

A problem they seem to be having though, is the constant shuffling of ad agencies for their different brands. McCann Erickson will continue to handle the brand, the other two new agencies in the roster are Weiden+Kennedy, which is part of Coke’s global roster, and Lowe Lintas& Partners. Lowe is in charge of this year’s summer campaign.[2]

Thums Up has changed its marketing strategy. From ‘Taste the thunder’ they have evolved to ‘Aaj Kuch Toofaney Karte Hain’. Well, they haven’t changed their tagline, but added this additional one. The cast is new- they’ve roped in Telegu actor, Mahesh Babu, who is the brand ambassador for the soft drink brand in the south, to star in this commercial running all over India. Now the concept of the theThums Up ad seems to have changed, instead of an alpha male performing dare devil stunts, chasing after a bottle of ThumsUp, it now portrays a bunch of youngsters who drink Thums Up, and go looking for thrill and adventure. They cover a distance that would ordinarily take someone 30 minutes, in 3 minutes just for the fun of it, all the while climbing up rooftops, jumping across terraces, slipping through pipes. Now, the reaction of this TVC on the web doesn’t seem to be very encouraging. Personally, I kind of like the jingle, and don’t think the advertisement is half bad. Though I too fail to understand why Thums Up would want to move away from the earlier, effective, communication strategy of showcasing what levels people go to for a ‘taste of the thunder’.

Now, almost everyone I know is a Coke fan, and while I have nothing against Coke per se, I’ll always remain a Pepsi loyal at heart due to nostalgic reasons and all that jazz (though I might think certain decisions of theirs were foolish, like dropping Shahrukh Khan as their brand ambassador, but that’s a story for another day). Taking a look at Pepsi ads this year-

Now that IPL has started most soft drinks brands would try to capitalise on that by focussing their ads on cricket. However, Pepsi is making a statement, by launching a TVC in which a kid is dribbling a football, while RanbirKapoor tries convincing him to switch to cricket. The TVC ends with their slogan- ‘Change the Game’. Now, this is one commercial I like, because it stands out from the clutter. You’d remember Pepsi had rolled out their ‘Change the Game’ campaign last year for the World Cup. Now, they’re showing us how they can be different, by changing the game itself. I believe the ad would strike a chord with several youngsters in India who prefer football to cricket, or like both sports. Sure, Pepsi has taken a risk by steering off the well beaten path, or pitch, so to say, but I guess we’re getting a glimpse of the daring Pepsi commercials of yore. Just a glimpse though. We’ll still be waiting for more.

Wait for Part 2 covering the clear carbonated drinks segment :)


(Natasha Bahuguna is a student at IIM Calcutta, batch of 2013. She wants to try her hand at everything from photography to pottery, and has eclectic tastes in movies, music and books. Her brilliance is often mistaken for eccentricity and her penchant for random talk is widely known. An amateur guitarist-poet-writer-artist-connoisseur-of-all-things-creative, she’s amateur-everything, and often wonders about poignant philosophical questions like how birds commit suicide, and whether fish can drown. Her biggest achievement so far, has been to finish Mrs. Dalloway on her first try. Her mission is to one day get to the Restaurant at the End of the Universe and if you’d like to hitch a ride to the galaxy, you can reach her at [email protected] )

Related posts:

  1. The customer is always right!
  2. New Product Launch-Coke Zero
  3. The OOH Experience!


    Pepsi has a long standing association with cricket/bollywood/music. In fact, they try to connect to the ‘youth’ by these associations, and that’s why they’re focussing on Football these days, as they’ve realised it’s an emerging and fast grwoing platform for today’s generation. Read- 
    http://www.campaignindia.in/Video/292134,pepsi-switches-to-football-in-its-latest-campaign.aspx  :)


    that’s true. but why have multiple ad agencies, isn’t it better to have a single focussed communication? Anyway, this argument can go on forever.
    When you say it’s different from the daredevil stunt ads, Coke never really focussed on the ‘daredevil’ aspect at all. All I’m saying is, they do the same thing every time. Which is also OK, but it’s getting staid. 
    As for all the daredevil ads, I agree there are too many. But that’s the positioning Mountain Dew, Thums Up, etc. have chosen for themselves…

  • The Pathetic Engineer

    I think multiple ad agencies strategy Works for the corporate giants, considering the India’s point of view.
    Prasoon’s Joshi’s Mcann Erickson responsible for umeedon wali dhoop Ads provide a much needed break from the daredevils stunt Series.(a much needed one )
    every ad agency has some kind-a specialty,and with a giant with deep pocket can afford multiple ad agencies and have the best of all.

  • Tanya Bahuguna

    I actually think the Coke ads break the clutter, not the Pepsi ones. Pepsi really needs to think beyond celebrity advertising and latching onto the Bollywood/cricket bandwagon. That’s just lazy advertising…


    True. It was just segregated because otherwise the article was too long. It was originally written as one article that had something to say about each of these TVCs.