The Cola War. Gossip In’corp’rated ?

[ by Latha ( ]

A Brief IntroLatha from Bangalore, a vivacious dudette living a full paced neo-urban tech life in Bangalore with full-throttled thought process, enjoys Sujatha’s writings as much as she loves the protagonist Slade from Desmond Bagley’s spy fiction, a veena instrumentalist, an ad fanatic and a film lover, as her hobby goes long enough, dreams of making the best out of her Indian middle class values, in the years to come.

The Cola War. Gossip In’corp’rated ?

The warring companies perspective : Are we really doing things that match our core competencies? How effective are our advertisings? Is it the content that is effective in measuring top of the mind recall that triggers a cola bottle sale or is it an object of discussion and ridicule? Are we identifying brand comparisons or celebrity identities? Are we promoting them or are they promoting us? What is the value proposition to a consumer from our product and is it what they get from the advertising campaigns?

We could have entered as a foreign brand to very culture oriented society where the buy decisions are governed by pockets and hearts that make the decision. So does our brand appeal to the heart and pocket that has an expectation of a thrilling experience and of-course for less? Do we really investigate the cause and effect of campaign and whether it was just a source of business to the media and all the new overnight celebrities who are gobbled by our purchasing power and speed to buy them before they open their thoughts? Do we remember that a soft gentle touching and cute advertisement of an Aamir with a dilemmatic choice of Miss world and Ex-Mrs. Paes still has a quantifiable recall over an Azharuddin-Jadeja eating wood? (Yes! but this time in the woods)Do we think of the consequences of buying huge budget celebrities for that day who become overnight zeros when we attached our image of a hero with them? Do we really understand culture and what makes a Frooti sail smoothly despite the shelf being stormed by the giant name bottles? Did the macho taste the thunder stay? Did the change of the thirst quenching Limca wander into nowhere?

Do we remember the days when we collected thumps up crowns with cricketing star pictures and stuck them all over the place just to earn a bat that fell of the shelf and dissolved like POP (oh yea, it was the Kapil Dev, Sunny Gavaskar, King Richards signature memento) Oh! did we forget we sold zillions of crown caps and not the thunder? Do we recall, Gold Spot – the zing thing is still in our cherished memory though it often reminds us of the Jungle book? Are we learning to protect our forever brand status or leading ourselves to an in-distinguishable status leading to brand dilution? Do we see that the forever brand status of Polaroid is just becoming foregone in the history book titled ‘Death of a Company thought the brand lives forever as a name!’ though can be for reasons so different but could Polaroid’s marketing learn what the market wanted and what they delivered and was it timed? Well, it’s a learning process. For now we cant spend our time revisiting strategy. Let us just get on with our tactical day-to-day battles and eventually war not with competition but our own strategy!

Times might change, people could get modernized and wish the internet also delivered bottles, but the Indian family culture though might seem like a movie ending, always ends with a classic touch of a tear that travels the cheek. Yes till such time India isn’t the sentimental and emotional India, till such time that people think of a Diet cola and stop the calorie hunt in a calorimeter or till such time the bottles and cans reach the deepest interior of one man’s land where he is sitting alone with a wireless handheld with a cola next to him (he may not even have electricity to drive the bulb mind you), we can always ignore easy, simple advertisements. We can always ignore the possibility of a tired husband coming home replace his Narasus Coffee with a bottle of fresh kiss. We can always ignore the social marketing benefits. We can ignore the possibility of furnishing the seats in local trains with our logo attached to it. We can ignore the potential of putting funds in landscaping a garden and having small billboards that say, it is from the cola company. We can always ignore the possibility of daily wage spinner who constitutes probably the entire database of a census sporting a cute small bottle of refreshing cola and say’ aaaah, ye mera cola! Coca cola (COKE? Please send me my paycheck for this free advt! 😉 OR! Am I the next celebrity here?)

Don’t go! It is the media‘s turn to reflect – We are delivering the goods. Yes the company likes it, the celebrities like the fat paycheck and we are happy with the sales turnover. Yes we do wish that the celebrity we sign up vanish the next day to help us sign new comers who score two consecutive fifties but disappear into oblivion for reasons only our dear selectors can tell. We are giving what the companies want- excitement. So what if the focus group that we administered the campaign showed tremendous revenue in our regression but was randomized without matching. We deliver what they want but why should we be concerned if it doesn’t trigger purchase? It wasn’t our deal to deliver end customer delight? Let them battle, and we shall win!

I know it is getting a bit stretchy! But don’t forget the celebrities: Hey come on! It doesn’t matter if it brings a lot of professional discomfort. It doesn’t matter if the ad fails and tampers my personal image? I made the money I needed for today! So what if in the process of reinstating my status of the Icon that I am, Porter’s model comes into play? So what if the bargaining power of the media and company is more to sign me up for another campaign? At least I get the chance of a comeback. I need my presence no matter what. I don’t mind if in the corporate battles I become a pretty monkey though the original intent was to associate me with my sentiments and love to nature’s belongings.

Oh come on! It is the corporate loud speaker‘s turn: I proclaim my aggression, make my presence felt and word my vigor and enthusiasm to collide head on with my competition and will make bold statements. After all I am a loyal-faithful company person. I shall always remain with my cola. It doesn’t matter if I blow up my chances of seeking an elevated position in my competing cola company. I don’t mind the vibes? And I know the cola companies would always give me a chance to exchange my seats and become their loudspeaker to talk about and against what I said from here! Celebrities are perishable, not me……

The consumer – You and me! – Ada Innaba Cola Shola. Namba Nair Tea, Masal Vadai Maadiri Varumaa.