Storytelling, emotions, music - Venkatesh Kini uncorks Coke's strategy

According to the President, Coca Cola India & South West Asia, the story is more important than the message and must appeal human emotions as well as a higher purpose

e4m by Kanika Mehrotra
Updated: May 1, 2014 9:31 AM
Storytelling, emotions, music - Venkatesh Kini uncorks Coke's strategy

Coca Cola has managed to stay relevant to different generations over the years amid growing competition and shorter attention spans of a restless TG. Among the brand’s arsenal to attract consumers are some simple, yet powerful, tools, which include storytelling, appealing to emotions and music, among others.

According to Venkatesh Kini, President, Coca Cola India & South West Asia, “People have not changed, it’s the tools of communication that have changed.”

He remarked, “The youth of today may appear to be irreverent, have shorter attention spans, and be irrational, but that’s how the youth have always been.” Kini felt that the best way to connect with the Millennials is content. For marketers, the best way of putting across the content to the Millennial is through engaging storytelling. “Storytelling has been there for centuries, Epics such as Mahabharata and Ramayana have brilliant storytelling,” he added.

“The story is more important than the message,” Kini said, while stressing on the importance of the emotion and power of a story well told, which appeals to a higher purpose. Stories that connect with human emotions will always work, he maintained.

According to Kini, while human emotions have remained the same, there has been a change in the attitude of the youth. “The Millennials want to be a part of the storytelling, so marketers should invite their target audience to be a part of the storytelling.”

While explaining how emotions have always connected with the youth, Kini talked about how two different advertisements done around 40 years apart struck a chord. One such ad was the classic ‘Hilltop’ TVC, which was launched during the Vietnam War in 1971, when peace and harmony were very strong emotions. Coca-Cola aimed to connect with its TG by appealing to these emotions. More than 40 years later, Coke sought to highlight the sentiments of peace and harmony between India and Pakistan by inviting the people of the two countries to share moments of connection and joy. The ‘Small World Machines’ provided a live communications portal linking strangers in the two nations.

Coke and Leo Burnett used 3D touch screen technology to project a streaming video feed on to the vending machine screen, while simultaneously filming through the unit to capture a live emotional exchange. People from both the countries and various walks of life were encouraged to complete a friendly task together – wave, touch hands, draw a peace sign or dance – before sharing a Coca-Cola.

Music has been another tool to connect with the Millennials, Kini said. He cited the example of the Coke Studio initiative that has been bringing together different genres of music and musicians. While highlighting the power of music, he talked about how an Assamese singer Papon enthralled crowds in Jalandhar with his rendering of Assamese songs.

Venkatesh Kini shared his views during his keynote address on the topic ‘Staying relevant in a millennial driven marketing place, Coca Cola way’ at the launch event of BW|Businessworld’s ‘The Marketing Whitebook 2014-15’. The event was held in Gurgaon on April 30, 2014.


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