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Summer ho to aisa!

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Summer ho to aisa!

Sukanya Karthick

This summer is set to witness one of the most fought out ad wars between Coke and Pepsi. The season took off with Coke’s thanda ads getting one of the quickest repartees in Indian advertising history, from the Pepsi camp. “Business thanda mathlab, Cola Cola,” adlibs Fardeen Khan, casually drinking a Pepsi.

But there’s more to life beyond this now thanda war. Pepsi has already driven the best of its arsenal into the market. The international Pepsi Lemon Twist was launched as Pepsi Aha and is positioned as the hot favorite of this season. Pepsi Aha is a variant of its existing cola drink with a lemonish taste. And Pepsi plans to pull in hordes of new consumers with this new flavour. “Market surveys show that consumers in India love the lemony taste in their drinks. Quite a few add a dash of lime to enhance the taste of their Pepsi anyway. We are just fulfilling an existing need,” says Rohit Ohri, VP, HTA.

Pepsi Aha has what some would say, a ‘non-Pepsi’ campaign. Unlike other campaigns, the thrust on celebrity endorsement is secondary to the ad theme. With a virtually unknown model, Sudeep Sahir, Pepsi is pushing its way through to its consumers through a series of ‘reality’ commercials.

But even when the plans for Pepsi Aha began to be bandied about the media, it was the turn of homegrown rival Thums Up to unleash a high voltage ‘kathi-meethi’ campaign to hit out at the new product. Releasing the ad one day before the Aha launch, Thums Up was able to somewhat sabotage the new offering.

The surprise twist is that even while Thums Up is onto this reactive advertising in a big way, industry sources say that it is secretly trying to come up with a new lemony version of Thums Up. The reason Coke is positioning Thums Up against Pepsi, is simply that it doesn’t have a similar concoction in its global portfolio. While there have been rumors that Coke, Atlanta, is working on a new formula to take on Pepsi Lemon Twist, there has been no official confirmation from the Coke camp yet. So it’s now up to Thums Up to take on Pepsi’s new Aha. Wonder what Salman Khan will have to say about that!

Meantime, Coke continues with its “life ho to aisi” theme with ads featuring Aishwarya Rai. Industry insiders say that due to delays, Daler Mehndi was pulled out of the ad and replaced by Aishwarya Rai. While Aamir’s “thanda mathlab Coca Cola” campaign hit a sore spot with the now famous Pepsi ad.

Summer being the hottest season of the year, when, according to industry sources, up to 70% of the total ad spends of cola companies is pulled out of the coffers, it’s heavy-duty season on the telly with each brand vying for mind space and market space.

Meanwhile, Pepsi is busy pumping money into its new launches and on promoting its stagnating product categories like Seven Up, Mirinda Orange and Slice. Farhan Akhtar will soon join Prahlad Kakkar as a Pepsi staple. Akhtar will be handling a series of ads for Slice.

And if the combined magic of Amitabh and Sachin, seen frolicking in the new Pepsi ad, is not enough, Pepsi has also pulled in its international campaigns. David Beckham pitted against a team of six sumo wrestlers and now the Britney Spears-David Beckham commercial. Also, Pepsi’s been doing what it does best – singing up celebrity endorsees. This summer Pepsi is also targeting regional markets by roping in Harbhajan Singh for Punjab, Madhavan for Tamil Nadu and Pawan Kalyan for Andhra Pradesh.

Such competition is sure to keep any body on their feet. And arch rival Coke has also been busy with its creative team. After signing up Virendra Sehwag and Sushmita Sen for this season, Sonali Bendre also features in a campaign for Limca. And that’s not all. Bipasha Basu and Sunil Gavaskar are the latest celebrities to be signed up by Coca-Cola.

Coke also has plans for its southern market. Thums Up will soon release a regional ad featuring Chiranjeevi and Indrani Dasgupta, shot in Pattaya. While in Tamil Nadu, Vijay and Simran feature in ads for Coke and Fanta respectively. Coke is also actively experimenting with its adlines. Their new ad featuring Sunny would have “Life ke har mod pe Coca-Cola” as a sign-off.

With this avalanche of ads, surely, for advertising agencies, Summer ho to aisa!


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Prior to joining Madison PR in 2012 Chaudhary was Group President Corporate Communications at Reliance Industries Limited.