Top Story


Home >> Marketing >> Article

Cola Wars losing fizz in Indian market

Font Size   16
Cola Wars losing fizz in Indian market

Coca-Cola and Pepsi commercials have bombarded us with images of an array of subjects ranging from actors and cricketers to reflection of fun and masti, family togetherness and patriotism. So strong is the message that from Kasauli in the north to Mahabalipuram in the south and from a meek Rajasthani village market to a chic shopping mall in Delhi, Pepsi and Coke are present everywhere.

The relentless fight for marketshare amongst the duo has led to the biggest brand conflict in the history of business – the famed Cola Wars. The nearly century-old battle has thrown up interesting examples of brand and line extension. If Coke does Sprite then Pepsi takes out 7Up and Mountain Dew; if Pepsi has Aquafina, Coke dishes out Kinley; when Coke launches Vanilla Coke, Pepsi shows off Pepsi Blue.

A similar scenario is there in case of the advertising as promotion as well. If the Pepsi ad features Shahrukh Coke ties up with Aamir, if there is Sehwag for Coke then Sachin endorses Pepsi. The cola giants have always pitched the best or the latest against each other. Funny jingles, popular music, creating appeal by celebrities – the two have tried out everything to score over the other.

However, the war seems to be losing its fizz. The one-on-one take appears to be not as pronounced as before. Prasoon Joshi, Creative Regional Director, South East Asia, McCann-Erickson, said, “The sales dipped after the pesticide controversy. The main aim is now to get back our consumers rather than take on each other.” McCann-Erickson does the ad campaigns for Coca-Cola India.

Both the Cola companies were caught in the pesticide controversy when India’s Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) claimed that their products manufactured in India contained chemicals far above the permitted levels and threatening to be toxic. However, Rohit Ohri, Senior Vice President and General Manager, JWT, is not convinced, “How will they (Coke) connect with the consumers if they don’t advertise?”

Questioned on the status of the cola war, Ohri said, “The Cola Wars have definitely fizzled out. Previously advertising was very heavy, Pepsi would take a dig at Coke and vice versa, the advertisements were funny and the consumers would enjoy them. But now there is no attack from Coke.”

Are so many celebrities, so many names, so many hit jodis leading to a clutter on the screen affecting the brand recall? “The brand is always bigger than the star. The star should never over power the brand. Stars are used for their talent and persona but the brand is the super star. If there are more stars in the ads now then it is better for the brand,” Joshi responded.


Kranti Gada joined the family business at Shemaroo in 2006 after a successful stint of over two years in marketing at Pepsi Co. She has been associated with the company for 12 years.

Exchange4media interacted with Jaspreet Chandok, Vice President and Head (Fashion) , IMG Reliance Pvt. Ltd on seamless brands integrations planned for Lakme Fashion Week, walking tall despite blazing trails like GST, demonetization and being a part of the larger cultural space

Their strategy to educate the consumers to make well informed decisions at all stages has worked out well.

Bobby Pawar, MD, CCO - South Asia, Publicis India, talks about his idea of chilling out

Launches third phase of TVC campaign ‘Think it. Done’

Based in Mumbai, Usha has nearly two decades of experience in the Indian media and entertainment sector and will serve as a strategic advisor to H+K’s diverse portfolio of clients with a special empha...

Report based on media channel data in 96 countries and detailed findings from the world‘s key ad markets, which between them account for approximately two-thirds of the value of global advertising tra...