For Coke, real thing is low-cost, high-action marketing

MUMBAI: Surprisingly subdued, is how one can best define aerated beverages major Coca-Cola in the second half of 2004. Coke?s share of voice has dramatically dipped from 25 per cent during the Q1 to "noiselessness" in Q3. Is it really sobering down or is Coca-Cola in its new vision of cost-efficiency experimenting with more cost viable options?

Just for the record, the advertising calendar for Coke began with a big bang with its first TVC starring Aishwarya Rai which ran for over two months. Thereafter, the much sought after repeats of past Aamir Khan ads adorned the small screen. The launch of Vanilla Coke on the other hand was something else. April saw a holistic integrated effort with a lot of hype and advertising surround the new brand. But, interestingly post VC, Coke seems to have become a nonexistent identity in the telly world.


But has Coke really lost its fizz? With the arrival of the festive season since August, Coke apparently has not been as sober as one might believe.

Celebrating the Ganesh Utsav in Hyderabad and Secunderabad

The arrival of the Ganesh utsav saw Coca-Cola launch a 'Thums Up Mahmandapam' contest where the ten best decorated Ganesh Pandals in the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad got to win prizes. The first prize being a sum of Rs. 10,000 and subsequent prizes of Rs 5,000, Rs 2500, followed by consolation and semi finalists prizes as well.

Over a 1,000 pandals entered the contest and the top 25 of reached the semi-final stage. An important requirement was that the pandals should not hinder the normal lives of people in terms of inconvenience caused to traffic or pedestrians.


Capitalising on Durga Puja in Kolkata

The Durga Puja festivities saw Coke blend in an array of activities to create a festive atmosphere and boost sales.

Coke was one of the key sponsors for the 'Kolkata Shopping Festival', which followed the same theory as the 'Dubai Shopping Festival', and had unveiled a privilege card to create a shopping experience for shoppers along with other sponsors. Card holders were also entitled to participate in a lucky draw where the grand prize was a Chevrolet Tavera.

Coke also tied up with the state pollution control board to run a polyethylene (PET) bottle recycling campaign and ensure cleanliness during the festival.


West went the Sprite Navratri way

The 'Sprite Navratri festival' promo in the west saw the Gujarat market bring in huge gains for the business through incremental volumes besides providing an opportunity for consumers to enjoy the festivals.

The local team tied up with 89 Garba (local community dance) venues across the state and activated more than 2,750 outlets providing interesting offers for consumers, ranging from discount coupons, entry-passes for Garba, scratch cards for cash prizes and gifts.

The entire promo, branded with Sprite colours, was run in four cities of Ahmedabad, Baroda, Rajkot and Surat where hundreds of thousands of consumers gathered at the Garba venues.

The theory being optimising on the festive season in the west, and Garba being a local community dance event which attracted the young and old.

That apart, the soft drink major undertook a unique initiative to keep the environment clean this Navaratri with a PET recycling program. Apart from sponsoring Dandiyas at prominent venues across the city, Coca Cola also conducted a cleanliness drive at these locations as part of its CSR.

This was based on the observation, that during festive events such as Navratri, consumption of soft drinks was high and so was the litter that was generated around the venue. To ensure that the environment was kept free of empty PET bottles, Coca-Cola conceptualised 'PET Policing' to rid the venues of the hazardous waste. After each day's celebration was over, the PET Police collected the PET bottles and other plastic products from the premises and sent it for recycling. The recycled products were later converted to other finished products like Toys, Carpets, Bags, Carry Bags and other house hold products.

Commenting on the development Coca-Cola India Regional Manager West Ashutosh Singh said, "This drive was in sync with the company's philosophy to undertake environment related and socially relevant initiatives. We planned to create awareness on eco-friendly habits and responsible waste management. We had already initiated these campaigns across the western regions in cities such as Pune, Ahmedabad and Panaji. The festive season was the right time to launch such a drive and highlight social and environmental matters."

The big-bang Diwali dhamaka

Coke participated in the festival of lights by offering gift packs of soft drinks and juices - Coke, Fanta, Limca, Thums Up, Sprite and Maaza - for its consumers.

The colour chosen for the tetron re-usable bags was bright red. The specially designed packs were priced at Rs 90 for a pack of six 500ml PET bottles, at Rs 108 for a pack of six cans and Rs 120 for a pack of two Maaza 1 litre tetra packs. These are available at all leading Coca-Cola outlets across New Delhi.

"Keeping in tune with the festive season and evolving consumer preferences, we introduced all our leading brands in attractive gift packs. The value for money proposition offered our price conscious consumers a 'refreshing' alternative to conventional gifts", said Coca-Cola India region vice president operations and marketing Vipul Saurabh.

How did all this translate on the sales front? The numbers are awaited so stay tuned to know if the strategy actually worked!

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