Thums Up at 40: Five ad campaigns that re-defined the brand

In order to thwart the dominance of Pepsi, Coca Cola invested aggressively to promote Thums Up as a masculine brand after its acquisition in 1993

e4m by Ruhail Amin
Updated: Nov 22, 2017 9:05 AM

It has been exactly 40 years since Thums Up was launched by Parle Group in 1977 and later acquired by Coca-Cola in 1993. Soon after its launch, Thums Up enjoyed a near monopoly with a much stronger market share, often overshadowing domestic rivals. It was also one of the major advertisers throughout the 1980s. Currently India is the sixth largest market for Coca Cola globally and Thums Up has played a key stimulus in this growth.

Soon after the liberalisation of the Indian economy in 1991, when the Indian government opened the market to multinationals, Pepsi was the first to come in followed by Coca Cola. Both companies subsequently engaged in heavy competition for endorsements. While Pepsi brand ambassadors included major Indian movie stars, Coca Cola focused its spending on cricket sponsorship.

In order to thwart the dominance of Pepsi, Coca Cola invested aggressively on its new acquisition -Thums Up. It was re-positioned as a macho-masculine brand and Coca Cola started an aggressive campaign by directly attacking Pepsi’s television commercials. The brand’s market share and equity soared and it firmly established itself as one of India’s premier cola brands.

The aggressive marketing campaigns seem to have paid off. Now Thums Up alone has a market capital of Rs 5000 crore. Looking at the promise that Thums Up has delivered, its parent company Coca Cola is looking to hit the billion dollar mark in the next couple of years.

Here is a look at some of the campaigns that have defined Thums Up over the last 40 years and helped it capture considerable market share, especially among the youth:

Happy days are here again (1978):

Published in 1978, this was one of the first print campaigns for the brand. The positioning was far from its current aggressive appeal and played on the aspirational lifestyle of that time.

First Thums Up ad featuring Indian Cricketers (1982)
Brand endorsements by cricketers may be multi-million crore deals nowadays but it is quite rare to find players from the pre-1990's era acting in advertisements. India's head coach Ravi Shastri was a fresh-faced youngster when he stared in a Thums-Up commercial with Sunil Gavaskar and Sandeep Patil.

Thums Up makeover in the 90’s

Far from a fun and aspirational brand to a more aggressive product, the 90’s witnessed the transformation of the Thums Up, which was more about daredevil stunts and the accompanying adrenaline rush.

Watch it here:

Taste the Thunder Campaign

This has been one of the most popular campaigns for Thums Up involving some of the top Bollywood stars. This campaign underlined the machismo associated with the brand in an unabashed aggressive style, almost bordering on the violent.

Main Hoon Toofani Campaign

This is the most recent of the Thums Up campaigns that has had a fairly long run. With Bollywood icons like Salman Khan and Ranveer Singh featuring in the campaigns, it has been able to take the brand positioning to a new level.

Reminiscing about the four decade journey of the brand and its newly launched variant which gives it a more masculine character, Vijay Parasuraman, Vice President, Coca-Cola India & South West Asia Business says, “Thums Up in the last 40 years has found a role to play in each and every persons life, be it in Kolkata, Bombay or rest of the country. So, it has got in the true sense ‘national presence’ and is the biggest iconic masculine brand. Our new variant Thums Up Charged is the first product innovation for Thums Up in 40 years. It is stronger than Thums Up.”

Speaking about the factors that have made Thums Up an iconic brand over the years, Ajay Bathija Director Marketing - Colas - ‎Coca-Cola India Private Limited, adds, "The important part is consistency, the fact that we have been consistent over 40 years has helped the brand immensely . From a product perspective we have been about this unique strong taste that Indian's love. The second is the brand value which is all about masculinity being an attitude and not a gender. Thums Up drinker is someone who has got grit determination and strength and Thums Up is almost a metaphor for that. I think these two things have worked very well for its consumers and made it an iconic brand."

(With Inputs from Neeta Nair)

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