Prasoon Joshi, chairman, chief executive and chief creative officer, McCann Worldgroup India & South Asia, which handles advertising for Coke in India, talks about the advertising journey and brand Coke:
On Coke's advertising journey in the last 20 years:
There have been three or four parts to it. In the 90s and the early part of the current century, there was an army of celebrities - from Karisma Kapoor to Daler Mehndi and Hrithik Roshan - endorsing the brand. The attempt was to connect with the masses and, therefore, there was a need for popular faces. You had advertising lines such as Coke pee lo, refresh ho jao, Pyar mohabbat Coca-Cola, etc. By the time I came on board in 2002, Coke was looking to connect with small-town India, or India B as the company described it. This led to the Thanda matlab campaign, which ran for three years - from 2002 to 2005. After that, it had to resort to damage-control advertising, following the pesticide controversy. We responded to the challenge with the campaign Sar utha ke jiyo. This ran for a few years. Subsequently, we had a series of campaigns on the 'Open Happiness' platform, Coke's global advertising line. We began with commercials featuring actors Imran Khan and Kalki Koechlin. Now, we have something called 'Crazy for Happiness'.
On brand Coke's attributes:
Coke stands for optimism, for positivity. It might not necessarily take your burdens away but it makes you feel good about yourself and helps you connect with people around you. In that sense, it conveys a social message - you not only aspire to be happy yourself, but also make others happy.
On whether a local campaign such as Thanda matlab can ever be created again:
The advertising and media landscape has changed from the days of Thanda matlab. At that time, there was no social media. Now, there is; and, there is an audience waiting to be addressed though this media. If you are asking me whether campaigns tailor-made for the market here would be created, my answer would be 'of course they would'! But it would take into account the realities and complexities of the market that exist today.
On whether brand Coke has delivered on its advertising promise through the years:
Overall, it has. I would like to believe we have done good work on the brand. Thanda, for instance, got India a Cannes Gold in 2003. Coke's preference scores increased when Thanda was running on air. Also, it was also one of the longest-running campaigns for the brand. We have responded to market challenges whenever these have come our way and we will continue to do that.