Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soft drinks ads in the summer of 2013

I have observed that most soft drinks brands today are getting more and more dependent on celebrity endorsement. The three cola brands have used celebrities for decades; among mango drinks Slice has been using Katrina Kaif for some years. This year Maaza has jumped into the celebrity bandwagon by using Imran Khan and Pariniti Chopra, till last year Maaza ads were pretty good without celebrities. Humour was very well used so why are celebrities being used now? Well at least the basic message/proposition has remained consistent –“Har mausam aam”.

What surprises me this summer of 2013 is the Frooti ad campaign featuring Shah Rukh Khan. This brand has been around for the last 27 years and it never needed celebrity endorsement; in recent years we have seen innovative ads from Frooti – please see my earlier posts in this blog: Frooti Advertising Always Fresh and Juicy – Consistent message but hope nobody was hurt while filming and Mango Frooti – Growing Up Part 2. Last year their campaign was quite ordinary, a young south Indian film actor (Siddharth) was the model, there was nothing much to say about creativity in the TV commercial. This year’s campaign has disappointed me; an over over over-exposed, aging celebrity has been used to rescue the brand.

  I do not favour using celebrities except in exceptional cases. Perhaps brand Frooti has reached a stage where its sales are falling or are stagnant, the brand could also be losing market share. In case of Frooti, or for that matter in this product category, it is difficult to add new consumer segments because all kinds of segments seem to have been covered already.  Let me digress a bit and give two examples; the first is that of Milkmaid Condensed Milk. Condensed milk was traditionally used as a milk substitute in India when milk was in short supply, when the milk supply improved condensed milk was no longer a need for most consumers; NestlĂ©, the company that marketed Milkmaid, later launched a campaign educating consumers as to how Milkmaid can be used to make different kinds of desserts, thus giving consumers new reasons to buy the product. Many years ago Complan was targeted at people who needed nourishment while convalescing; it was later decided to expand the market by targeting growing kids, by doing this a new growing segment was added. In both cases new consumer segments were added to the existing one. Adding a new segment is difficult for Frooti or for any product in the fruit drink or soft drink category which is targeted at almost everyone, so what does one do? The possible answers could be to improve or change the packaging, make the look of the pack more attractive, change the communication; all this was done for Frooti in the past few years. If nothing else works marketers rope in a popular celebrity and try to save the brand! Clearly there aren’t too many options left for the marketer in product categories such as this.

In case of Frooti it is very evident that both the marketers and their ad agency ran out of ideas and therefore decided to go in for a celebrity; this might help them for a temporary period but for the long run they have to keep thinking up new ideas, a celebrity may not be a permanent solution; maybe they could they could find out if there is a need to improve the product itself. The script of the present TV commercial appears weak; there is nothing in it really, it is over dependent on the celebrity. As for the lyrics, it is plain sweet sounding nonsense, if that is not running out of ideas then what is? There is one aspect I do like about the TV commercial and that is the expressions on the face of the little kids, I think it has been captured really well.

Mountain Dew has always stood for adventure and daredevilry and their ads have always been superb. Although this year the campaign has maintained the usual high standards I was dismayed to see that they too fell into
the celebrity trap. I personally think that even without Hrithik Roshan they ad would have been as good. For years Limca ads were also very good and no celebrity was required but today things have changed, they have roped in Kareena Kapoor; the ad running on TV currently itself is nothing special.

  The current 7up campaign has three TV commercials – Kimono, Kathakali and Common Man. The campaign tries to be different and funny but frankly I do not know how to react to them, sometimes I feel they should have continued with Fido Dido.

My favourite soft drink campaign this summer is that of Sprite. The campaign comprises two TV commercials. The creative is strong, there is no celebrity, and the ads are naughty, funny and engaging. I would rate them highly on the creative thought; the campaign positions Sprite as a drink for those who are smart and think differently.  See the ads below:   


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